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Review: ‘Rocket to the Moon’

This summer, I’ve been enjoying reading the plethora of literature about space, space travel, and of course the famed 1969 Moon Landing with my children. I’ve read picture books and chapter books, but one of my favorite reads, I haven’t yet shared with any of them!

Big Ideas That changed the World: Rocket to the Moon
By Don Brown
Amulet Books, $13.99
Grades 5 & up

Don Brown’s Rocket to the Moon looks like it’s going to be part of a series that is reminiscent of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series. There’s no Nathan Hale spy or executioner, but there’s a daredevil who tells us the story of space travel. While this book is not as quirky or humorous as Hale’s series, Brown creates his own sense of style that will appeal to middle grade readers.

Many adults will know the story, if they were paying attention during history, but there are many added details that put the story into perspective. Like Germany used concentration camp prisoners to build rockets that they used to attack its enemies. Or that the Soviets were the first to launch a dog into space. (Although Laika died.) And while women weren’t considered for the NASA program, Brown gives a nod to Katherine Johnson, who crunched numbers behind the scenes. It’s those interesting tidbits that make this such a fascinating read. Like the rescue team dressed in protective gear and hiding behind sand dunes during the Apollo launch.

Brown uses soft watercolors for the artwork, and yet it has a vibrant energy, especially with all the launch scenes, where dark hues of red are used for the rocket launch.

By the time I get back to school and can suggest this to my students, the excitement over the anniversary of the first moon landing will surely have dwindled, but I don’t think this will make it less popular. If your students finished the Hazardous Tale series, give them this to tide them over until the next one. Hopefully they’ll be chomping at the bit for volume 2 of the Big Ideas series.

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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