Monday, July 23, 2012

Eight Days Gone - a review

McReynolds, Linda. 2012. Eight Days Gone. Illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

In simple, four-line rhymes, Linda McReynolds has captured for a new generation the eight breathtaking, breath-holding days of the Apollo 11 mission.  Eight Days Gone recounts the July 1969, launch, orbit, landing and return of the spaceship Columbia and the lunar module Eagle.

It begins on a cheerful, sunny, colorful day in Florida,

Hundreds gather.
Hot July.
Spaceship ready -
set to fly.
McReynolds skillfully distills this immense project, this watershed accomplishment into its most basic elements, yet she disregards no aspect of the mission, giving recognition to Aldrin and Armstrong,  the nation, the command center, Collins (who stayed aboard the Columbia), even the Navy - remember the days of "splashdowns?"

The words are not always simple, but O'Rourke's stunning oil paintings fill in the necessary details. The font is either black or white and appears in a corner, never obscuring the double-spread, full-bleed illustrations.  Because of the subject matter, much of the artwork is in the creamy colors of the lunar surface, the spacecraft, and the astronauts' clothing.  Against the black of the universe, the colors of the American flag, the striped parachutes, the faces of the astronauts, and the dazzling blue and green of the earth, demand the reader's attention. 

Most striking is the painting of the "earthrise" on the black lunar horizon, a small astronaut placed in the lower left corner,

Silent. Dark.
Tranquil sea.
Barren. Stark.
Our tiny place within the cosmos is illustrated, but is boldly followed by the illustration on the following page where the astronaut fills a third of the page, confidently setting forth across the lunar landscape,

Haul equipment.
Careful test.
Lunar quest.
May we always be reminded of both our infinetesimal status and our immense capacity to overcome it.  A stunning book. Highly recommended.

A photo, bilbiography, author's note and websites are included.

This is Linda McReynolds' first children's book.

Other Eight Days Gone reviews @

NASA offers a K-4 student website as well as a NASA Kids' Club.

Did you know that China has its own space station and in June, they sent a manned (or should I say "wo"manned) mission to live aboard the station for two weeks?  Details available from NASA or The New York Times. China plans a moon landing for 2016.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Pierogies & Gyoza.  Please stop by.


  1. I love it when verse and science meld! It's amazing that such short sentences could be so descriptive. Thanks for linking up to Nonfiction Monday this week!

  2. Yes, I too love the idea of presenting science in simple verse. I particularly like the "Earthrise" poem you posted.

  3. I've been reading great things about this book..... What a great idea to present the events in verse like this.

  4. Oooh, very interesting! We need more books like this. I love science presented in verse!

  5. Thank you for the amazing review and for all of these positive comments! I am thrilled to so many people - both children and adults - enjoying the book and learning something from it, too!


Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...