Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

First on the Moon

First on the Moon

Barbara Hehner
Illustrator:  Greg Ruhl 
For ages 8 to 12
Hyperion, 1999   ISBN: 978-0786815388

Today it is hard to imagine what it would have been like to live in a time before the moon landing occurred, before Neil Armstrong said his now famous words. But it really wasn't that long ago when the very idea of going to the moon was still considered with suspicion and doubt. Could a man really walk on the moon people asked?

Luckily there were enough people who did think it was possible to send a man to the moon and they did their best to make this dream a reality. One of the believers was a girl called Jan Aldrin whose father "Buzz" was one the team of three men who were chosen to make the first moon landing. Jan's entire family was taken for a tour of the enormous Saturn V rocket before it took off on July 16, 1969, and through her eyes we discover what the rocket was like and also what the astronauts who made that remarkable journey had to go through to make the landing possible.

In this fascinating book we follow each step of that momentous journey sharing the experience with the astronauts and with the people on the ground who waited and worried. There was so much to be done before the Eagle, the lunar module, actually landed on the moon, and the reader is able to follow every step from Jan's point of view and also from the point of view of the astronauts themselves. It is hard to imagine what the astronauts families, and so many people, felt when they heard the words, "The Eagle has landed." Just six-and-a-half hours later the world heard Neil Armstrong say "That's one small step for man... one giant leap for mankind." Fifteen minutes later Jan's father was on the moon and the two men got to work taking measurements, collecting samples, and planting the American flag.

This extraordinary story never seems to get old and in this superb book the author has found a new and fresh way to describe one of the landmark events in the history of mankind. By relating things as Jan saw them the reader can experience the feelings of a child, a girl whose father is doing something amazing in front of the eyes of the world. Filled with many photographs and paintings this is a book that children and adults alike will enjoy.