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.