A portrait of Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon and the first to express what that felt like in paint.
Basing his account at least in part on personal interviews with Bean, who tellingly described himself as “an artist who was once an astronaut,” Robbins (who also wrote about our nearest neighbor in Margaret and the Moon, illustrated by Lucy Knisley, 2017) spins a glowing tribute that focuses more on his white subject’s artistic aspirations than his outstanding Navy and NASA careers. Having found after his Apollo mission and subsequent experiences in space that “words weren’t enough” and photographs likewise failed to capture the “wonder of walking on a new world,” Bean turned to a medium that allowed him to experiment with light, color, and even materials—some of his work includes actual moon dust, spacesuit boot prints, and marks created by astronautical tools. Rubin’s cover and internal views of an easel actually set up on the lunar surface are fanciful, but along with scenes from Bean’s youth and short but electrifying time on the moon, he incorporates versions of some of Bean’s space paintings into glimpses of the artist’s studio and a gallery exhibition (where some younger viewers are people of color). Further examples are paired in the backmatter to the actual photos that inspired them.
Inspiring fare for readers who, as the author puts it, dream of becoming “brave astronauts,” “great artists,” or both. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)