A free-verse ode to the Apollo program, still the high-water mark of this country’s space program.
Like Catherine Thimmesh’s Team Moon (2006), this album is offered in tribute to the massive, collective eight-year effort to send explorers to our closest celestial neighbor and then bring them back. Slade intersperses resumes for the members of each Apollo crew up to Apollo 11 with extended poetic flights that include significant technical details along with dramatic passages: “Explosive fire. Deafening noise. / The rocket blasts off / above an inferno of white-hot flames.” A prose coda offers nods to the major corporations that developed and built the Saturn V rocket and the spacecraft it carried, then an account of the Apollo 11 astronauts’ triumphant reception back on Earth. Gonzalez’s big, kaleidoscopic montages and page-filling close-ups of tense faces likewise highlight the drama and are so realistic as to be sometimes difficult to distinguish from the photos with which they are mixed. One glimpse of brown hands using a slide rule and an African-American woman (unidentified but probably Katherine Johnson) in another montage are the only indications here that the space program wasn’t an all-white enterprise. Still, it makes a grand—if, so many years later, nostalgic—tale about a magnificent effort.
A handsomely packaged look back at an epochal achievement. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, bibliography, sources, index) (Nonfiction/poetry. 10-13)