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From the Discovering History's Heroes series

Serviceable but sparkless.

A profile of Apollo 11’s pilot as a hero who “just did his job.”

Buckley’s account is shot through with references to working, having jobs to do, and tackling “chore after chore.” It covers Collins’ test-pilot and astronaut trainings, his experiences in space both in Gemini 10 and as the third man aboard Apollo 11 (where, at times, in lunar orbit, “he was the most isolated person in human history”), plus later gigs as writer, artist, and Smithsonian administrator. Though pointedly noting that NASA didn’t hire an astronaut of color until 1967 nor a woman until 1978, the author generally steers clear of controversy, even quoting Armstrong’s line as “That’s one small step for a man” without comment. He also presupposes so little prior knowledge from his intended audience that along with minimizing technical details he feels compelled to explain who Adam and Charlie Brown are. With the lack of illustrations further distancing modern readers from events, the resulting narrative reads as a bland tribute, particularly next to Bea Uusma Schyffert’s lively The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon (2003) and Collins’ own memoir for younger readers, Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places (1976; republished in 2019 as Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story).

Serviceable but sparkless. (endnotes, bibliography) (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2480-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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In this glossy photo essay, the author briefly recounts the study and exploration of the moon, beginning with Stonehenge and concluding with the 1998–99 unmanned probe, Lunar Prospector. Most of the dramatic photographs come from NASA and will introduce a new generation of space enthusiasts to the past missions of Project Mercury, Gemini, and most especially the moon missions, Apollo 1–17. There are plenty of photographs of various astronauts in space capsules, space suits, and walking on the moon. Sometimes photographs are superimposed one on another, making it difficult to read. For example, one photograph shows the command module Columbia as photographed from the lunar module and an insert shows the 15-layer space suit and gear Neil Armstrong would wear for moonwalking. That’s a lot to process on one page. Still, the awesome images of footprints on the moon, raising the American flag, and earthrise from the moon, cannot help but raise shivers. The author concludes with a timeline of exploration, Web sites, recommended books, and picture credits. For NASA memorabilia collectors, end papers show the Apollo space badges for missions 11–17. Useful for replacing aging space titles. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57091-408-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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Thousands of years ago, the Komodo dragon may have inspired dragon legends in China and beyond. In more recent times, researchers from all over the world have traveled to the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia to study the Komodo dragon. This lively if somewhat haphazardly organized account focuses on the efforts of contemporary researchers, presents some of their cooler findings (female dragons can reproduce through parthenogenesis; their saliva is laced with deadly bacteria) and profiles a few captive specimens. Mostly color photographs from a variety of sources adorn almost every page, and captions add to the information. Learning about the Komodo dragon is not for the faint of heart, and the photos show the wild beasts in all their gory glory. The extensive backmatter includes brief facts about Indonesia, more information on the Komodo dragon life cycle and its use of smell and conservation information. A portion of the sales will be donated to the Komodo Survival Program. (bibliography, further reading, glossary, websites, index, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-757-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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