Want a book about mankind's challenging journey to the Moon that will interest kids? Moon Mission: The Epic 400 -Year Journey to Apollo 11 by Sigmund Brouwer is a very interesting book. I read it with a couple of my sisters and we were all very interested in it.
The book is divided into eleven "Episodes" ( they're basically Chapters), Episode One: Countdown, Episode Two: Liftoff, Episode Three: Escaping Earth…etc. Each Episode has three sections, or "Stages".
The First Stage of each episode puts you on Apollo 11 as one of the astronauts. It addresses you as an astronaut, explaining what you are experiencing in each stage of your journey, and what you know and do. "The three of you are in bulky space suits in the CSM, still strapped into position, flying upside down. Except now there is no up or down…."
Stage Two introduces you to various historical people that made it possible for 'you' to travel to the moon. Isaac Newton's three laws of motion, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, and several other discoveries. Stage Three gives you more information about various space travel related topics, with titles like, "Gravity- The Force Is With You (And Against You)", "Columbia's Primitive On-Board Computer", "The Moon is not a Giant Ball", and so on.
There are also small boxes on pages in each "Episode" entitled "Solve the Science Mystery". They give a short synopsis of a problem faced in the past, for instance, the problem of not being able to determine longitude very accurately, "The British government passes the Longitude Act and offers, in today's currency, nearly $4 million U.S. to anyone who can invent a device to accurately measure global position going east to west or west to east. The future of human exploration - including the epic journey to the moon - depends on your solution to the problem. Who are you, and what was your solution?" The answer to the various mysteries are given in other small boxes at the end of each chapter where they reveal the name of the person. "Congratulations, Margaret Hamilton!" They give a summary of what the person invented or discovered presenting it as if the reader was that person. …"You won the NASA exceptional Space Act Award for this work…" It seemed a little weird to write these sections in the Second Person…but okay.
All of the sections were written very well, and included gross stuff and humor that teenagers and kids will appreciate. "A Moose, A Golden Nose and a Burst Bladder" is the title of one of the stage two sections, guaranteed to intrigue pretty much any curious kid (at least if they're like my brothers and sisters).
Many of my blog readers will want to know that the book assumes that the "Big Bang" and evolution theories are true. But we were able to overlook and/or critique those parts. It was fascinating to find though that our landing on the moon did not help solve the 'mystery' of how the moon was formed. It actually debunked most of the evolutionary/big bang theories of how the moon was formed, and the books notes that ,in a one way, landing on the moon led people to realize that they knew less about the formation of the moon than they did before landing. That provided some interesting discussion amongst myself and my sisters.
Also, parents may want to know that the book details how Astronauts 'used the bathroom' in space. It wasn't anatomically descriptive at all…just kind of gross and awkwardly weird to be reading aloud about. It probably is a question that many would have though: how WOULD one use the bathroom in zero gravity?
Also, there was a part that seemed to contradict what we had read in another book about Apollo 11, about the timing of when the astronauts noticed the broken switch needed to ignite the engine, and when they had the idea to fix it, to return to the Columbia from the Moon's surface. Just be aware that this book may take some liberties with history (mainly in the Stage One parts where 'you' are the astronaut) in order to make it more dramatic.
But all in all, this was a very interesting book. I really like it and I'm pretty positive kids and teenagers will as well. There are many pictures and photographs throughout. At first, I was rather disappointed that they're all in black and white, but as I started reading, I realized that it didn't matter, because the excellent writing style added 'color' to them, as it were. All in all though, it is a very entertaining and informative book. It is crammed full of information, but written in such a way that you don't realize all of the knowledge you are imbibing.
Many thanks to the folks at Kids Can Press for sending me a free advanced review copy of this book! (Because this is an and advanced copy, some of the content and layout may be different in the final publication). My review did not have to be favorable.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
This book may be preordered at Amazon.com