Reviews for Mission Control, This Is Apollo : The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
*Starred Review* As we move away from the twentieth century, the shining moment of the first moon landing seems to grow brighter. Placing that event within the context of the whole Apollo program, this handsome, large-format book spotlights 12 significant missions, from Apollo 1, with its fatal cockpit fire, to Apollo 17, with its sweet success and bittersweet awareness that the program was ending. Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon (1994), has extensively researched the Apollo program and conducted hundreds of related interviews, including 28 with former Apollo astronauts. Beyond a wealth of pertinent anecdotes, this background knowledge brings a subtle understanding of complex decisions and human emotions at pivotal moments as well as a broad perspective as the Apollo missions moved gradually toward their goals. Informative, full-page sidebars focus on topics such as the work of the Mission Control teams and the early fear of "moon germs." NASA photos provide excellent color illustrations of the Apollo missions. More unexpected and personal are the many stunning paintings and insightful captions by Alan Bean, who walked on the moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Lists of recommended books, films, and Internet sites are appended. A beautiful, insightful, and highly readable presentation of the Apollo missions. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2009 July
Books in space

Some of the authors and illustrators of the books timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing are longtime space fans. They faithfully monitored the Apollo 11 mission and documented the adventures of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins in treasured scrapbooks. Now, a new generation will be inspired to follow dreams of traveling back to the moon or even to Mars, or perhaps designing the equipment and procedures for those missions.

Mission, possible

It was a close race, but Jerry Stone's One Small Step: Celebrating the First Men on the Moon wins honors for best cover. A round hologram shows an astronaut climbing down a ladder, stepping on the moon, moving closer and finally standing front-and-center holding a flag. The rest of the book, presented as an Apollo program scrapbook kept by the grandson of a Mission Control employee (and son of a present-day NASA scientist), is equally fascinating. Scores of photographs--of things like the Apollo 11 crew eating breakfast, a Saturn V rocket under construction--some of which lift to reveal more information--fill the book and wonderful two-page spreads document the in-space experience, the crew's return to Earth, etc. Other nice touches include a mission diagram of orbits, docking and undocking maneuvers; minibooks of countdown checklists and mission menus; removable facsimiles of VIP and press passes for the Apollo 11 launch; and a hologram showing the rocket lifting off the pad.

There are lots of similarities between One Small Step and Alan Dyer's Mission to the Moon, including a show-stopping cover--this one features an embossed image of an Apollo 11 astronaut on the lunar surface. A mix of images and short blocks of text (much more inviting and accessible than long passages) cover the men, machines and other aspects of the Apollo program in well-designed spreads. Factor in the enclosed double-sided poster and truly spectacular DVD of authentic NASA footage, and this book is sure to please children and adults.

Junior version

Andrew Chaikin was a space-obsessed 12-year-old the first time he met Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, and there's a photo on the back flap of Mission Control, This Is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon to prove it. Chaikin, writing with wife Victoria Kohl, covers the same wide territory he so expertly presented in A Man on the Moon, here in a version for junior space fans. There are plenty of photographs of activities on the ground and in space, informative sidebars (waste management gets glorious treatment, as it does in many of the space books published this year) and colorful graphics to appeal to young minds.

In addition to original paintings of his colleagues and their missions, Bean contributes personal reminiscences about them, as well as details about the paintings themselves. For example, he stages the scenes with small models he makes himself, uses crushed soil to add texture and sometimes even grinds up small pieces of mission patches, flags and NASA emblems from his spacesuits into the paint. For budding artists or those otherwise intrigued by the paintings, consider Painting Apollo: First Artist on Another World (Smithsonian Books), which includes 107 of Bean's paintings and is the companion volume to an exhibition at the National Air & Space Museum July 16 through January 2010.

Fly me to the moon

Buzz Aldrin flew on the Apollo mission just before Alan Bean's. He teams up again with painter (and pilot) Wendell Minor for Look to the Stars, the follow-up to 2005's Reaching for the Moon. It's a quick trip through aviation history sprinkled with personal insights and recollections from Aldrin. He tells us, for example, that crewmate Armstrong took along a piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers' plane to the moon. (He doesn't mention that aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was in the viewing stand for Apollo 11's launch, seated next to Apollo 13's Jim Lovell. But, hey, Aldrin was obviously too busy that day to notice.) The timeline at the end of the book is packed with information and looks like a cool 1950s mobile.

One Giant Leap takes its title from the famous words spoken by Armstrong when he became the first man to step on the moon. Written by Robert Burleigh, the book skips the launch and starts when the lunar lander separates from the command service module and heads off toward the moon. Mike Wimmer's paintings capture the stark beauty of outer space--and his likenesses of the astronauts are astounding.

Brian Floca offers a completely different view of the Apollo 11 mission in Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. Reading Chaikin's A Man on the Moon inspired Floca to write (and, of course, illustrate) his own project. His paintings are bright and airy, perfect for suggesting the sensation of floating in space, but equally effective portraying Mission Control, liftoff and star-studded space vistas. Floca's images are paired with lyrical text that turns the technical achievement of the moon landing into a poetic--and thrilling--adventure. Author and/or illustrator of more than two dozen children's books, including the Sibert Honor-winning Lightship, Floca reaches new heights in Moonshot.

Cool, daddy, cool

If you've not yet seen the world via M. Sasek's series of children's travel books, here's the perfect excuse to do so: This is the Way to the Moon is the latest of the series to be re-released. Originally published in 1963, the book is a colorful time capsule from the hip world of Cape Canaveral during the era of "Right Stuff" astronauts. Sasek's simple, stylish drawings show off the clothes, cars and buildings of the day--including a beautiful rendering of a two-story hotel favored by the Mercury 7 astronauts, complete with pool, splashy sign and geometric wrought-iron railing. Sasek also wrote the accompanying text, which is tinged with the sarcasm of a late 1950s animated feature. Halfway through This is the Way to the Moon, he makes an easy transition into more technical drawings of rockets--really missiles at this point in the space program--and explanatory copy.

Tomi Ungerer's Moon Man is another oldie but goodie re-released this year. Rockets don't appear until nearly the end of this tale about the man in the moon catching a ride on a falling star to satisfy his curiosity about the fun-loving earthlings he spies each night. After causing a series of events familiar to fans of the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the moon man visits a tinkerer-scientist and catches a ride back to his orb. Ungerer's lush colorful illustrations add to the poignancy of the story. Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
With Victoria Kohl. Chaikin, drawing on his adult book A Man on the Moon, explores the piloted Apollo missions. Each of the twelve missions is covered in a detail-filled chapter, carefully outlining objectives and providing thrilling play-by-plays. The chapters flow seamlessly, allowing readers to see the missions' progression. In addition to historical photographs and technical diagrams, Apollo-astronaut-turned-artist Bean lends his accomplished paintings. Reading list, websites. Ind. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #4
In this outstanding history of the piloted Apollo missions, Chaikin conveys the excitement, tragedy, humor, and quest for knowledge that drove the golden age of the United States space program. Drawing on the extensive interviews he conducted for his book for adults (A Man on the Moon), Chaikin covers each of the twelve missions in a separate, detail-filled chapter, carefully outlining the objectives for each mission, showing how earlier failures or advances made by the Soviets prompted later technical adjustments, and providing thrilling play-by-plays of the space flights and moon landings. The chapters flow seamlessly, allowing readers to see the progression in the missions from tests of engineering to explorations of Moon geology. In addition to historical photographs and technical diagrams, Bean, an Apollo astronaut turned artist, lends his impressionistic paintings of the missions. Each has a caption in which he explains his thoughts behind the illustration or the events portrayed. His explanations are not to be missed, as he is extraordinarily articulate about his dual scientific and artistic perspectives on space. Space enthusiasts will savor many of the extras in the book, including coverage of space flight topics (ranging from the inevitable food and bathroom discussions to profiles of the massive scientific and technical efforts behind the missions), a list of the Mercury and Gemini missions that set the stage for Apollo, and an impressive list of further resources to consult. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #2
Based on interviews with 28 astronauts, this history of the Apollo program masterfully describes the missions and personalizes them with astronauts' own words. Chaikin starts with a brief overview of its origins and of the Mercury and Gemini missions. He then highlights the significance of each manned Apollo mission in chronological chapters, with full-page sidebars on such topics as food, TV coverage, space sickness and going to the bathroom in space. The handsome design has many photographs, diagrams of the rockets and modules and more than 30 well-reproduced paintings by Apollo 12 astronaut Bean. Often using pastels instead of the moon's grays, his very tactile style includes footprints from his lunar boots embedded in the most recent paintings, a technique described in an appendix. The large pictures of moonscapes, astronauts in spacesuits and equipment, which have similar styles and palettes, get repetitive but benefit from the long captions in which Bean adds personal details and reflects on his role as an artist. (authors' note, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 August/September
Imagine the reader?s delight when they discover that the paintings in this book were done by astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, who also wrote the captions. In addition, there are b&w photographs and diagrams so that a graphic is provided on nearly every page. Diagrams of space vehicles and an illustration of the moon showing where the lunar landings took place add to the text. Details for each of the Apollo flights are contained in its own chapter, and interspersed are facts about some aspect of space flight. Tragedies are sensitively explained, including why they occurred and what was learned from them. The book ends with an epilogue that discusses the lack of human moon landings since 1972. Lists of people interviewed, further readings, websites, and other media relating the Apollo missions are included. Because of the organization and detail, this book is excellent for research. More than that, however, it is a book that answers questions and inspires readers to learn more about space flight?past, present, and future. Recommended. Janet Luch, Educational Reviewer; Adjunct Professor SUNY New Paltz and Touro College ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 May

Gr 5-8--Along with being based at least as much on personal interviews as on documentary and other sources, this album-sized history of the Apollo missions is also set apart by its unique illustrations. A former astronaut who walked on the Moon as part of the Apollo 12 crew, Bean has been for many years a full-time fine artist. He incorporates into moonscapes, spacecraft, and suited-up astronauts done over the course of his artistic career not only an unusually personal perspective, but also actual bits of moon dust, used mission patches, and other well-traveled memorabilia. He also provides illuminating, sometimes eloquent commentary in captions and a closing statement. Though the authors present an uncomplicated version of events with almost no discussion of the exclusion of women from the astronaut corps, for instance, and quoting Neil Armstrong's famous line as "one small step for a man" rather than what he actually said, they do tuck in memorable anecdotes (to the question "What's the most beautiful thing you saw in space?" an astronaut replies, "Urine dump at sunset"). They effectively highlight the Apollo program's magnificent achievements, as well as its moments of tension and tragedy. Supplemented with an admixture of photos and labeled diagrams, the large-scale art adds a dazzling visual element to this grand commemoration.--John Peters, New York Public Library

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VOYA Reviews 2009 June
This unique portrait of the Apollo voyages is a remarkable combination of intimate details of the space flights by one of the astronauts, historical and scientific details about the mission, and paintings by one of the astronauts. The extended introduction presents the mindset of America after Sputnik that set the stage for America's space program. Students will delight in details such as toilet procedures, meals, and clothing for moon walking. Alan Bean's paintings, which comprise a major part of the book, are accompanied by reflections from the artist/astronaut. He painted what he saw from his astronaut-artist's eye as Claude Monet might have done, rather than from his astronaut-geologist's eye. Each portrayal of an Apollo voyage provides personal details of the astronauts and paintings inspired by that voyage, as well as the expected details. Illustrations also include photographs from the voyages, such as earthrise from the moon's orbit, and photos of preparations. This book is truly a labor of love. It has places in art instruction and American history as well as science. It is identified as appropriate for ages eight to twelve, but the group that will most appreciate the book are those seniors who lived through these exciting days. It is indeed an important book for libraries serving all ages of readers.--Marilyn Brien Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Chats. Biblio. Further Reading. Chronology. 5Q 3P M J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.