Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca
What child has not thought about the wonders of space? The stars, the moon, the Milky Way? Here Brian Floca taps into his boyhood awe as he gazed into the heavens, and recreates the historic voyage of Apollo 11, in July 1969, when Neil Armstrong took his moonwalk. “High above/ there is the Moon,/ cold and quiet,/ no air, no life,/ but glowing in the sky,” the narrative begins. Next Floca introduces the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin—the “click” of hands locking into heavy gloves, the “click” of heads locking into large, round helmets, and the “click” of straps fastening and the hatch being sealed. Two small spaceships, Columbia and Eagle, “sit atop the rocket/ that will raise them into space,/ a monster of a machine:/ It stands thirty stories,/ it weighs six million pounds.” A double-page spread divided into panels shows the countdown, as spectators watch from a crowded campsite across the water.
Columbia and Eagle disengage from the Saturn V Launch Vehicle and then lock together, “rushing into darkness,” toward the “Moon, far away,/ cold and quiet,/ no air, no life,/ but glowing in the sky.” As with any great work of poetry, the visual imagery and the pacing of the text work beautifully in tandem. Stunning views of the moon grow ever larger. Floca balances the astronauts’ seriousness of purpose with comical details about the perils of eating and eliminating in weightless space, and he characterizes Armstrong and Aldrin’s stroll on the Moon with a childlike glee: “They step, they hop./ As light as boys,/ they lope, they leap!” Throughout the narrative, Floca connects this monumental experience to the impact felt at home: “Armstrong is calm—but on Earth they cheer!” reads the text picturing a family in front of the TV set, the father dabbing at his eyes. Endpapers feature cutaway views of the rocket and all its stages, and offer a timeline of events; meticulous source notes make this a fine reference for youngest researchers, scientists and space fans. In these 48 pages, Floca makes an indelible impression of how those brief eight days in July, 40 years ago, changed history.