Friday, April 11, 2014

PPBF: Moonshot

TitleMoonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Author/Illustrator: Brian Floca
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/2009
Genre/Audience: nonfiction/Ages 4-10
Themes: space exploration, moon, Apollo 11

Opening: "High above there is the Moon, cold and quiet, no air, no life, but glowing in the sky."

Synopsis: (from School Library Journal)

"Large in trim size as well as topic, this stirring account retraces Apollo 11's historic mission in brief but precise detail, and also brilliantly captures the mighty scope and drama of the achievement. Rendered in delicate lines and subtly modulated watercolors, the eye-filling illustrations allow viewers to follow the three astronauts as they lumber aboard their spacecraft for the blastoff and ensuing weeklong journey ("…there's no fresh air outside the window;/after a week this small home will not smell so good./This is not why anyone/wants to be an astronaut"). They split up so that two can make their famous sortie, and then reunite for the return to "the good and lonely Earth,/glowing in the sky." Floca enhances his brief, poetic main text with an opening spread that illustrates each component of Apollo 11, and a lucid closing summary of the entire Apollo program that, among other enlightening facts, includes a comment from Neil Armstrong about what he said versus what he meant to say when he stepped onto the lunar surface."

Why I Love This Book
After reading the Caldecott winning Locomotive, I had to get some of Floca's other books. Moonshot is enthralling. Floca combines lyrical storytelling with gorgeous illustrations. This book has a wide audience, appealing to those with an interest in space, astronomy, and U.S. history, but most importantly, to those who are not yet interested in those topics. I challenge you not be drawn in by this book.


Field Trip: If you are local and looking for exhibits of spacecraft, the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles International Airport, houses many models, prototypes, and gear, including the Space Shuttle Discovery.

NASA Missions Page on Apollo 11

"Field Trip to the Moon" Educators Guide - Grades 5-8

Virtual Field Trip to the Moon

Craving more Perfect Picture Books? Author Susanna Leonard Hill compiles weekly book reviews from bloggers at Visit Fridays or click the Perfect Picture Books tab at her website for a subject listing.


  1. You sold me. Sounds like an amazing book. I love thinking about space. Loved Locomotive.

  2. MOONSHOT is my all-time favorite Floca book. It's one of the first, really creative, nonfiction PBs I read. His lyrical voice is amazing. And his depth of research is really impressive.

  3. I read this last year and loved it. In the same vein I read the discovery books as well. I Love space books for kids. They make difficult subjects easy to understand and more awesome than then the real thing by taking out the tedious long parts necessary for science to produce the data.

    This book is worth reading twice so you'll probably find my in the library looking for it soon. :)

  4. Great book! I really should get a copy of my own. The library copy is always out (sign of a good book!)

  5. Very cool book, my nephews would love this... thanks Laura!

  6. a perfect choice for Lunar Eclipse night!