July 20th, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Whether you were alive or not in 1969 to see the first broadcast of that one small step, watching the black and white footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin setting foot where no man had gone before is still likely to be one that has had a lasting impact on any subsequent viewer.
(Just to clarify I’m not quite old enough to remember the original, only the reruns, despite my children’s belief I was alive in “the olden days”).
Celebrating the anniversary gives the opportunity for a new generation to be inspired by the final frontier and I was delighted when my six-year-old’s choice of new book was Field Trip to the Moon by Jeanne Willis and John Hare (Macmillan Children’s Books, £6.99).
Can you imagine a class outing to the moon? What would happen if you went with a teacher whose head counting skills didn’t match up to the task and you got stranded in outer space? Exploration, creativity and making friends are at the heart of this sweet story that fortunately is set in a time where it isn’t too difficult to make the 384,400 km return trip to Earth’s natural satellite to pick up a young straggler.
There are plenty of other titles that have been published to mark the historic date too and I asked two Lincoln book sellers to pick their current favourites for younger readers.
Gill Hart’s (Lindum Books, Bailgate, Lincoln) recommendations revolve around the satellite that revolves around us…
Moon Landing (Campbell Books, £5.99) is a lovely board book for the littlest astronomers in Campbell’s First explorers series. Blast off in the rocket, moon walk across the surface and splash down back to Earth with the Apollo 11 astronauts as they made history in 1969. Each scene has chunky push, pull and slide mechanisms perfect for little hands with fun facts about the Moon Landing.
Moonstruck! Poems About Our Moon edited by Roger Stevens (Otter-Barry, £6.99) features new poems about the moon from well-known and up-and-coming poets combined with classic poems with a moon theme. This inspirational and beautifully illustrated anthology includes poets Roger Stevens, Brian Moses, Valerie Bloom, Mandy Coe, Grace Nichols, Liz Brownlee, James Carter, Jay Hulme, Tony Mitton, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Rachel Rooney, as well as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emily Bronte.
The Extraordinary Life of Neil Armstrong by Martin Howard (Puffin, £6.99) – One little boy who loved the idea of flying became the first person to set foot on the moon. From his childhood playing with model planes to becoming one of the most famous astronauts of all time, discover the incredible story of Neil Armstrong’s life in this beautifully illustrated book, complete with narrative biography, facts and timelines.
Blast off on a journey through space exploration history, from the Apollo Moon landings to mind-boggling plans for living on Mars, with The Space Race, The Journey to the Moon and Beyond by Sarah Cruddas (Dorling Kindersley, £16.99). How did we land on the Moon? What will the space jobs of the future look like? And why did we send a car to space? Sarah Cruddas brings to life the hidden stories behind the most famous space missions, before taking the reader on a journey through our space future. This children’s book includes a foreword by NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission. It also includes fascinating insights from Sarah’s interviews with real-life astronauts including Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan and Virgin Galactic Test Pilot Kelly Latimer.
And, indeed, humans have only extended their reach into the galaxy due to the individuals involved and the titles Deborah Holland (Waterstone’s, High Street, Lincoln) has chosen provide perfect role models for those dreaming of walking an astral path when they grow up…
A Galaxy of Her Own – Amazing Stories of Women in Space by Libby Jackson (Penguin, £16.99) goes from the origins of space travel to space in the future. It’s also one of my favourite non-fiction books for children (and adults). The influence and number of women involved in space travel is greater than you think and largely their contribution has gone under the radar. This book reveals those individuals, shining a light on them and reinforces that knowledge that no dreams are impossible. Each individual listed has a written biography on one page with an illustration of them on the opposite. Every illustration done by graduates or students of London College of Communication. Just incredible. A forever book for 9 years old to 109.
How to Be an Astronaut (and other jobs) by Dr Sheila Kanani & Sol Linero (Nosy Crow, £7.99) combines great illustrations with information laid out in a simple format that makes it really accessible to younger children, perfect when it is recommended for ages 5 to 8 years old. What is really clever is how interactive it is with more than 100 stickers, a press-out rocket and fold out space scenes. This is a winner with my 7 year old.
Stephen Hawking by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & Matt Hunt (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, £9.99) – Though not strictly the moon or space, I could not not include at least one of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Stephen Hawking may not have travelled in space but he was the most famous cosmologist of all time, studying astronomy and the universe, how could I not? This biography, as with many in the series (which includes David Bowie, Ada Lovelace and Rosa Parks to name a few), is stylishly illustrated yet quirky. With its age appropriate and simple content this makes it accessible to children as young as 5 or 6 years old.
Planetarium curated by Chris Wormell and Raman Prinja (Templar Publishing, £20) is a great addition to the Welcome to the Museum series. You essentially get an exhibition in a large format book. Amazing for a budding stargazer or potential intergalactic traveler. Explore the wonders of space from your armchair. Ages 9+.
Where’s Mr Astronaut by Ingela P Arrhenius (Nosy Crow, £6.99). Love these lift-the-felt flap board books as they are ingenious in design and very funny too. This one is no different. A fabulous introduction to space for any 0 to 2 year old. Bold and colourful illustrations. Perfect for the very young.