Great Illustrated Books

Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon

By Andrew Chaikin, Illustrated by Alan Bean

Viking Juvenile, 2009
Pages : 128
Suggested Ages: 9 and Up
ISBN: 0670011568

To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this substantial-sized volume is filled with conversational and quote-filled accounts of all 12 of the piloted Apollo missions. The text is full of surprising facts, heroic actions, and life-threatening moments. After a brief overview of the space program, starting in 1957, the book moves sequentially, one chapter per mission, beginning with a description of the tragic fire inside the command module of Apollo One that killed all three astronauts during a practice countdown on January 27, 1967.

The icing on the cake, book-wise, is not just the splendid collection of photographs, but also the stunning inclusion of spectacular full-page oil paintings by astronaut Alan Bean (the fourth man to walk on the moon), who became an artist after retiring from NASA. Each painting—of the moon, the Earth from space, the spacecraft, and the astronauts on the moon—is captioned with Bean’s description of the story behind it.

Pair the book with Brian Floca’s Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, and then learn why there were no women aboard any U.S. space flights in Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Andrew Chaikin was a consultant on the 12-part miniseries Tom Hanks did for HBO in 1999, From the Earth to the Moon, which is worth seeing, as are the fabulous movies, The Right Stuff (1983) and Apollo 13 (1995), for older viewers, as both are rated PG.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Aldrin, Buzz. Reaching for the Moon. HarperCollins, 2005.

Brown, Don. One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong. Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Floca, Brian. Moonshot: the Flight of Apollo 11. Atheneum, 2009.

McNulty, Faith. If You Decide to Go to the Moon. Scholastic, 2005.

Ride, Sally. To Space and Back. Lothrop, 1986.

Schyffert, Bea Uusma. The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut, Michael Collins. Chronicle, 2003.

Simon, Seymour. The Moon. Simon & Schuster, 2003.

Stone, Tanya Lee. Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Candlewick, 2009.

Thimmesh, Catherine. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Critics have said

"Based on interviews with 28 astronauts, this history of the Apollo program masterfully describes the missions and personalizes them with astronauts' own words."

"They effectively highlight the Apollo program's magnificent achievements, as well as its moments of tension and tragedy...the large-scale art adds a dazzling visual element to this grand commemoration."
School Library Journal