When We Walked on the Moon

When We Walked on the Moon
David Long and Sam Kalda
Wide Eyed Editions

Another of the recent, 50th anniversary of mankind’s first moon-landing outpouring of space-related books, both fiction and non-fiction, is this compelling one from David Long.

Herein, using a narrative style, he focuses in the main on the astronauts who took part in the Apollo Missions.
Dividing the text into short chapters he provides both technical details and accounts of the important incidents for the Apollo astronauts, including  pre Apollo space travels such as Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 orbiting of the Earth, before focussing on the Space Race between the Soviet and American teams to be the first to land a human on the Moon’s surface.

The focus of the second chapter is the Apollo11 flight crewed by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. We read of such domestic details as how the crew ate cooked portions of beef hash, toast, biscuits and bacon that were freeze-dried in bags; how their drinking water was made and their sleeping arrangements.

The third chapter describes the actual moon landing, how the two who were to walk outside first had to rest for four hours before venturing outside in their space suits. I was fascinated to learn that eleven layers of ‘different fabrics’ were used in their space suits to protect the men from everything from space dust to pieces of flying rock and from spacecraft fire; and that said suits weighed 80kg each.

Then comes Armstrong’s famous first Moon walk,

followed shortly after by Aldrin.

The Apollo 12 mission is described next; the crew, we’re told, had twice as much time as their predecessors on the Moon’s surface and were able to carry out tests and collect samples.

We then read of the almost disastrous Apollo 13 mission and what took place aboard the spaceship following the explosion of an oxygen tank that badly damaged the service module, causing a brief but complete loss of radio communication with Earth. Happily ground staff at NASA working non-stop, together with the awesome ingenuity and courage of the astronauts aboard Aquarius, succeeded in bringing the men back home.

The amazing and absorbing story concludes with the safe return of the final Moon mission team aboard Apollo 17

and a brief look at future space travel with such enormous challenges as reaching Mars; however, as we read, ‘if Apollo showed us anything it is that with a combination of courage, determination and ingenuity we can and will go far.’

The final pages include group portraits of the crews of each Apollo mission together with brief biographies of each astronaut, a glossary and timeline.

Sam Kalda incorporates his love of pattern and texture into double page, single page and smaller illustrations of men, machines, lunarscapes and the Earth from space.

With its plethora of small humanising details, this book is strongly recommended for KS2 classroom collections and for home reading.

Find My Rocket / Elephants on Tour / Egypt Magnified

Find My Rocket
Aleksandra Artymowska
Laurence King Publishing

Aleksandra Artymowska is a terrific illustrator; I first came across her amazing work through another maze book, Amazed. Now it looks as though the same boy from that book has returned needing help in another puzzling adventure. This time having sent his red rocket jetting off into space he needs our help to locate it in eleven differently themed maze scenes. It’s easy enough for readers to spot the whizzing spacecraft but finding the right way through the intricately detailed possible pathways presents a real puzzler.

Every one of Aleksandra’s scenes be it the paper cranes, the building blocks, the toolbox or the teddies,

is packed with wonderful small objects, visual jokes and more – love the alliterative manoeuvres the lad performs during his search– catapulted through the cars, dodged all the dominoes, for instance, before he finally succeeds in retrieving the object he launched.

A great book to immerse oneself in as the evenings draw in; if you’ve yet to discover Aleksandra Artymowska, then this is a great place to start.

Elephants on Tour
Guillaume Cornet
Laurence King Publishing

Having packed their trunks, five elephants are ready to embark on a world tour and we’re invited. First though we need to get to know something about our fellow adventurers: there’s the highly organised guy with his bags full of maps and tickets. He’s accompanied by a food connoisseur; the arty one, the photographer and the energetic one who insists on taking his skateboard along.

Having done London aboard a red double decker, the next port of call is Amsterdam with its canals and cycle lanes to explore. No doubt they sampled the syrupy waffles, a speciality of the city.

I’m sure they would also have tried the blinis in St. Petersburg and kayaked along one of the rivers or taken a ride on the Mongolian railway.

After visiting sixteen locations on five continents the final stop in their frenetic journey before returning to home shores, is Paris.

Along the way we receive a running commentary from the five travellers and for each location a fact file and other useful information. We’ll definitely need all that because at the outset, we are asked to make sure we find each of the elephants and their favourite belongings at every stopping place. No easy task with so much to look at. (Answers are supplied at the end of the tour.) My head is spinning after that.

With Guillaume Cornet’s intricately detailed scenes, this search and find journey is totally engrossing; those cityscapes are mind-boggling.

Egypt Magnified
David Long and Harry Bloom
Wide Eyed Editions

One possible way to get youngsters interested in times past, especially those who can’t get enough search-and-find books is this offering from Long and Bloom. Readers are invited to travel back through the centuries and visit sixteen Egyptian scenes, including the Great Pyramid and Tutankhamun’s tomb that are absolutely teeming with tiny figures.

Once in ancient Egypt, there are  ten items or people to spot in each illustration and on reaching the end, readers are encouraged to go back and hunt for another 57, plus a hidden mummy on every spread. (There’s a magnifying glass to facilitate the search inside the front cover, because, so we’re told, every Egyptologist needs one.)