A child’s tribute to one of the thousands of blue-collar workers who have made the space program possible.
Though Dempsey looks back on family history in highlighting the small but significant contribution that her father and other workers in a South Carolina textile factory made by manufacturing one layer of spacesuit material, she holds off describing the technological feat or even placing it in historical context until her afterword. Instead, in all that comes before she mainly focuses on the admiration any child might feel for a hardworking dad. Thus, despite a climactic gathering before the TV to watch Walter Cronkite before Green cuts away to Neil Armstrong’s swaddled figure, there are no narrative details that bring either the times or specifics of work in the factory itself to life. When the child asks whether her father is proud to be part of a great endeavor he answers, “Only proud to make a living, Marthanne. Only proud to make a living.” Aside from dressing father and daughter in period clothing (when the latter isn’t visualizing herself floating in space), Green doesn’t do much to pick up the slack—one glimpse inside a factory furnished with vaguely drawn hand looms, an illegibly tiny labeled sketch of a spacesuit, and, later, a stack of old-time TVs as a tailpiece notwithstanding. Marthanne and her family are white; some group scenes include black background characters.
One of a rush of commemorations of Apollo 11’s semicentennial, but this is more about father-daughter intimacy than “One small step….” (Picture book. 6-8)