The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Slice of moon cake, anyone?

© Javier Jaén

Before we get into this post, let me recommend that you check out the Google doodle and the narrated story by Mike Collins, the perhaps often overlooked astronaut, who remained in orbit so Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could land on the moon. It is worth watching a couple of times, for the story and then the illustrations.

This year has seen a number of books - biographies, nonfiction, and fiction - released celebrating the astronauts and the moon.

As you've probably guessed, I have a couple of favorites that I would like to highlight. Especially as the Cybils nominations are just around the corner. These are just a FEW of the multitude of books on the moon and the moon landing that released this year.

A Kite for Moon by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Illustrated by Matt Phelan (Zonderkids) - Need I say any more? A fictional story, honoring Neil Armstrong, of a child's attempts to cheer the moon by sending her kites with a promise to visit, since she's too far away to hug. The moon watches as the boy grows and learns all he needs to complete his promise and finally visit her. Beautifully simple in both text and illustrations, this book is full of emotion and will inspire the next generation of dreamers & explorers. (Ages 4-8)

Moon's First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Elisa Paganeli (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) - Another fictional story from the moon's point of view. Hanging out in the sky, alone, the moon watches developments on earth, from the dinosaurs to the Apollo 11 visit. Speckled with facts throughout, the 5 pages of back matter makes this a great informational text on the science of the moon and space exploration. (Ages 4-8)

*[Yes, this does have two covers! The second one is an "exclusive edition" for Barnes & Noble. Don't miss the QR codes, on the end pages, of Apollo 11's liftoff & Neil Armstrong's first words.

& Come back Monday for Susanna's interview and Friday for my #PPBF review.]*

Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare (Holiday House) - This is a real treasure. Being entirely wordless, it is different from all the ones I've seen. Although obviously fictional, this book is a fun addition to a unit on the moon and the moon landing. Containing many visual STEM elements, including the moon's shades of grey and the deep, black sky. (I reviewed it here.) (Ages 4-8)

Moon! Earth's Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis (Henry Holt & Co.) - An ingenious nonfiction picture book on the history, phases, interactions with Earth, and a few "moon myths," told from the point of view of the moon. Although humorously anthropomorphizing the moon (as an "autobiographical" story), it remains a wonderful STEM nonfiction book. Another ingenious way to get moon and space facts in front of kids who "dislike" nonfiction books. (Ages 4-8)

[It also has a Barnes & Noble exclusive edition, but not a different cover.]

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Sean Rubin (Orchard Books) - OKAY, I know this isn't Apollo 11 - but it is still the moon and a gorgeous nonfiction book. Besides how many know that an artist was an astronaut. An important STEAM book, on the blending of art and science. (Ages 4-8)

A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison (Little Brown Books) - Not just a biography of the woman whose mathematic abilities helped ensure America's first manned got into space, orbited Earth, and landed on the moon. But an evaluation of the social wrongs that existed at the time and her tenacity and persistence to succeed despite these blockades put in front of her. Excellent scientific and social science STEM nonfiction book. (Ages 4-8)

The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle (Schwartz & Wade) - Beautiful nonfiction account of the well-read & inquisitive girl, who in the 1930's, upon learning of the discovery of a new planet, suggests the name Pluto, based on Roman mythology. Though not specifically a book on the moon or Apollo 11, it is a fun nonfiction biography. A good STEM book for units on the planets and encouraging all kids to become scientists and take a risk. (Ages 4-8)


Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Alan Marks (Charlesbridge) - A wonderful nonfiction evaluation of the science and discoveries made by the twelve astronauts who stepped on the moon, during the Apollo 11 to Apollo 17 missions. With a nod to all 21 of our lunar astronauts (including those lost). The back matter includes an afterword by Astronaut Allen Bean. (Ages 5-9)

If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Joyce Lapin, illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli (Sterling Children's) - Loaded with lunar and space facts, this informational fiction picture book will appeal to any kid (whatever the age) that might wish to have a birthday in space or on the moon. A very ingenious way to get space facts in front of kids who "dislike" nonfiction books. (I reviewed it here.) (Ages 7+)



Marty's Mission: An Apollo 11 Story by Judy Young, illustrated by David Miles (Sleeping Bear Press) - A fictional story based upon a real event. Marty's father is stationed at NASA's Guam Tracking Station to monitor and operate the huge antenna dish that monitors the Apollo 11 Mission. When a problem arises, Marty must fix it. Or Houston can't communicate with the astronauts as they prepare for re-entry and splash-down. A rare story from the kid's point of view of what it was like to be listening and watching the mission. With a little rush of adrenaline tossed in. (Ages 6-9)


Luna: The Science and Stories of Our Moon by author/illustrator David A. Aguilar (National Geographic) - Stunning illustrated and photographic examination of the history, phases, cycles, and mythology of the moon. And excellent STEM introduction to the moon. (Ages 10-12; 64 pgs)


Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson by Katherine Johnson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) - A delightful, conversational autobiography for older readers of a talented, and persistent woman who ensured the success of many Apollo missions. (Ages 10+; 256 pgs)

Additional books to look at:

*Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez (Peachtree 2018) [NF; Ages 10-14 ; 144 pgs] - a great prequel to Daring Dozen;

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca (Richard Jackson Books Atheneum) [NF; Ages 4+; 56 pgs];

Go for the Moon: A Rocket, a Boy, and the First Moon Landing by Chris Gall (Roaring Brook Press) [F; Ages 5-8; 48 pgs]; and

The First Men Who Went to the Moon by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Scott Brundage (Sleeping Bear Press) [NF/poetry; Ages 6-9; 32 pgs].

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