Moonshot is an earlier book by this year’s Caldecott winner, Brian Floca. It’s a compelling rendition of Apollo 11’s lunar landing portrayed in free verse and meticulously detailed illustrations.
Floca’s book does a wonderful job of showing the human side of traveling to the moon. The experiences of Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong come alive through minute details such as the click of their locking helmets or the background whir of machinery as they attempt a weightless sleep. The details of the astronauts’ excursion are enticing but not overwhelming, and they work well to make this complicated undertaking accessible to children. The scenes of space and spacecraft serve to draw in the reader in precisely the same way the moon literally and figuratively draws the astronauts in. The mechanics are often described in living terms (the earth rolls away, a bloom of moon flowers up around the Eagle ) that make the alien climate feel somewhat familiar. What pervades the book is a sense of life and connection rather than of machinery and isolation. In the illustrations you’re made aware that behind the feat which made three men famous are scores of NASA employees and countless cheering spectators.
Moonshot has been popular with my students who know something about the Apollo 11 mission. I imagine that kids who don’t have prior knowledge of the relationship between the Saturn, Columbia, and Eagle might be discomfited by the central pages on the moon landing. Using this book in the context of a larger unit on explorers has worked very well for me.