Mission Control, This Is Apollo by Andrew Chaikin

Tomorrow is our last meeting of American History Club for the school year. We’re doing a second session on the space program. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a YA level book about astronauts/the space program/space race. I ended up choosing a nonfiction book instead of our usual fiction or narrative-driven nonfiction book because that’s all I could find in our library system.

Subtitle: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon

Published: 2009

Genre: nonfiction history

Length: 105 pages of text, 114 pages total

Summary: The book starts with a brief introduction to the space race and the United States’ efforts to catch up to the Russians. Each of the Apollo missions (except 2-6, which were unpiloted) is described. We don’t get a boring list of facts, but a story of the astronauts and something special that happened to them. There are also page-long asides discussing the technology behind the astronauts and their missions. These pages describe everything from the food to using the bathroom to the spacesuits. The book also includes many photographs and paintings of the astronauts and spaceships during their missions. Alan Bean, an Apollo astronaut, painted many scenes from the missions and describes his thoughts behind the paintings.

Final thoughts: I always know I’ve found a good nonfiction book if I’m tempted to share tidbits I’m reading with whoever’s near me. This was one such book. It was full of all kinds of information, but never felt like a dry recitation of facts. Each of the mission description contained a story that humanized the astronauts and put me in their place (at least a little) as they were flying in space. The paintings and captions by Alan Bean added a delightful element to the book as well. Overall, a highly enjoyable book perfect for many ages. The pictures will keep the younger kids flipping through the book, and older kids or adults will be pulled into reading about all the missions.

Title comes from: It’s descriptive of the topic

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was too short for me to count

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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