Friday, November 16, 2018

To the Moon and Back - a review

By Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson
Illustrated by Bruce Foster
National Geographic, 2018

In this gift-worthy, sturdy, pop-up book, middle-grade space enthusiasts will find a wealth of little-known details, personal remembrances, and photos from the quest to land men on the surface of the moon. In addition, the science and engineering is explained clearly and simply.

Buzz Aldrin begins with the start of his NASA career as an astronaut in the year 1963.  He then chronicles the successes and failures of the many Gemini, Soyuz, and Apollo missions that preceded the famous voyage of Apollo 11.

Tucked within the pages and pop-ups, are pull-out sections titled Space Race and Aldrin Family Reflections.  The pop-ups, created by paper engineer, Bruce Foster, include (among others) the Saturn V rocket which pops out to a height of over one foot, a lunar module, and the deploying parachutes of the lunar capsule's splash landing.

One section titled, "Saved by the Pen," includes this recollection:

     "After 21 hours on the moon, it was time to go. But the ascent engine's arming circuit breaker was broken off!  If we didn't find something to replace the pin, the engine wouldn't start.  We'd be stuck on the moon.
     Armstrong and I looked around.  We found a felt-tipped pen that fit into the slot. Problem solved!"

After reading To the Moon and Back, you will have a greater appreciation of what is often described as one of humanity's greatest feats of engineering.  The beautiful photos, pop-ups and a build-your-own lunar module are just icing on the cake.

Buzz Aldrin finishes his account with a query,

"Will we celebrate Apollo 11's 100th anniversary under the pink skies of Mars?"
He hopes so.  And perhaps it will be a woman who first steps on the red planet. I hope so.

In 2013, I was lucky enough to meet Buzz Aldrin.  He was very friendly, and let me touch him—the closest that I will ever come to outer space. 
© L Taylor

   My copy of To the Moon and Back was provided by the book's publicist.

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