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    Starred Review. Grade 2𔃃—Large in trim size as well as topic, this stirring account retraces Apollo 11"s historic mission in brief but precise detail, and also brilliantly captures the mighty scope and drama of the achievement. Rendered in delicate lines and subtly modulated watercolors, the eye-filling illustrations allow viewers to follow the three astronauts as they lumber aboard their spacecraft for the blastoff and ensuing weeklong journey ('…there"s no fresh air outside the window/after a week this small home will not smell so good./This is not why anyone/wants to be an astronaut'). They split up so that two can make their famous sortie, and then reunite for the return to 'the good and lonely Earth,/glowing in the sky.' Floca enhances his brief, poetic main text with an opening spread that illustrates each component of Apollo 11, and a lucid closing summary of the entire Apollo program that, among other enlightening facts, includes a comment from Neil Armstrong about what he said versus what he meant to say when he stepped onto the lunar surface. Consider this commemoration of the first Moon landing"s 40th anniversary as a spectacular alternative for younger readers to Catherine Thimmesh"s Team Moon (Houghton, 2006). *Starred Review* Forty years after NASA’s Apollo 11 mission first landed astronauts on the moon, this striking nonfiction picture book takes young readers along for the ride. The moon shines down on Earth, where three men don spacesuits, climb into Columbia, and wait for liftoff. On a nearby beach, people gather to watch the rocket blast the astronauts into space. The astronauts fly to the moon, circle it, land on it, walk on its surface, and see “the good and lonely Earth, glowing in the sky.” After flying back to the orbiter, they return to Earth and splash down, “home at last.” An appended note discusses the mission in greater detail. Written with quiet dignity and a minimum of fuss, the main text is beautifully illustrated with line-and-wash artwork that provides human interest, technological details, and some visually stunning scenes. The book’s large format offers plenty of scope for double-page illustrations, and Floca makes the most of it, using the sequential nature of picture books to set up the more dramatic scenes and give them human context. The moving image of Earth seen from the moon, for instance, is preceded by a picture of a lone astronaut looking up. A handsome, intelligent book with a jacket that’s well-nigh irresistible. Grades K-3.
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  • Brian Floca
  • Brian Floca"s picture books include Locomotive, winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, and a New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2013 selection; Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, also a Sibert Honor Book and New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Lightship, a Sibert Honor Book; and The Racecar Alphabet and Five Trucks. Brian is also the illustrator of Avi"s popular Poppy Stories, Kate Messner"s three Marty McGuire novels, Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan"s Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring -- a Sibert Honor Book and winner of the Orbis Pictus Award -- and Lynne Cox"s just published Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas. You can visit him online at BrianFloca.com.
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  • Brian Floca
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