• Happy birthday Tomi Ungerer (Crictor), Ed Young (Seven Blind Mice), and Stephanie Calmenson (The Principal’s New Clothes).
  • It’s the birth date of poet William Blake (1757–1827). Read A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen.
  • It’s Red Planet Day (referring to Mars), commemorating the launch of Mariner 4 on this day in 1964. During its voyage, the spacecraft eventually came within just over six thousand miles of Mars. Read Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy.

Today for National Aviation Month, let’s look at a perfect book for four- to eight-year-olds that explains the Apollo 11 mission. In 1969 families and friends gathered around small television sets in households across America to watch Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin attempt to land on the moon. In Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11,Brian Floca uses a large, oversized picture book to bring this incident of history to life. In breathtaking drawings Floca shows the preparation of the astronauts, the panels at mission control, the countdown to blastoff, and the rocket moving through space. Readers view weightless astronauts, their descent, and their historic moonwalk. Floca fills his informative text with just the type of information that children love—how to use Velcro strips to hold weightless objects down and how “after a week this small home will not smell so good. This is not why anyone wants to be an astronaut.”

Floca also brings the human drama of this event down to a child’s eye view. As a family observe these events on television, the parents and children wait, watch, worry, and finally cheer as these men successfully complete their mission. In the final spread, when the trio returns “Back to family, back to friends, to warmth, to light,” readers see these children, running with their father and dog with the moon in the sky. By this wonderful sequence, Floca subtly makes the point that the heroes that day were not only those who walked on the moon—but the people who sent them there and kept vigil while history was being made.

Moonshot is a stellar example of the information picture book, with endnotes that discuss Armstrong’s famous statement “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” If like the children in this book you watched the Apollo moon landing on TV forty-one years ago, Moonshot will bring back those memories. But it also allows children today to understand, intellectually and emotionally, what happened when these Americans became the first to walk on the moon.

Here’s a page from Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11:


Originally posted November 28, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, Award Winning, History, Sibert, Space
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11


  1. Kirsten von hassel says:

    Just discovered your blog and will be reading every day. And I LOVE this book – it is one of our favorite new classics. I really want my kids to feel the excitement we all felt when we sent Buzz and crew to the moon. Its an important moment in the not-too-distant past that I think all kids can relate to. And it is overshadowed these days by budget cuts and video games.

    Can’t wait to make my christmas list from your archive and see what books I may have missed!

  2. Lynne Avril says:

    Just discovered you blog through another illustrator on Facebook and think it’s great! Will bookmark it and check in regularly!

  3. Ken Ninomiya says:

    This is a great read and wonderful book to help our children understand the importance of the past, present and future space programs. This is a true AMERICAN made accomplishment that needs to be celebrated.

  4. Cindy Robertson says:

    As I read this book, I remembered the excitement I felt listening, watching the news reports and later seeing the pictures of this amazing event. The picture are wonderful and will give students a new perspective of the sky – seeing the sky from the moon – no stars just the Earth. I enjoy this book and plan to use it in my classroom particularly in science as we teach the moon phases in third grade. Or as a companion to a story we read each year about John Glenn and his two trips into space. It is great to see the wonder third graders show as we study space, maybe I have the next generation space adventurers in my class.

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Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

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