Go For the Moon: A Rocket, A Boy, and the First Moon Landing by Chris Gall

Go For the Moon: 
A Rocket, A Boy, and the First Moon Landing 
Review copy from MacMillan Publishers
Gall begins his oversized picture book-science book hybrid with the words, "The moon is out tonight." Through the (semi-autobiographical) character of a boy, readers experience the wonder of the Apollo 11 mission and the moon landing while getting lessons in rocket science at the same time. Gall's illustrations are crisp and detailed, reminding me of a mash-up of the styles of Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express) and David Macauly (The Way Things Work). Insets reminiscent of paper photographs keep the narrator part of the story as Gall shows readers size comparisons (the Saturn 5 was taller than the Statue of Liberty and weighs as much as 400 elephants) job qualifications for the crane that lifts the three sections of the rocket (they have to be able to lower a practice section onto an egg without cracking it!) and so much more. The narrator also gives readers a deeper understanding of rocket science through the model rockets he builds over the course of the story. 
The drama of the launch, travel and lunar landing, as well as man setting foot on the moon are followed by the personal and national excitement as the astronauts safely return to Earth. The final pages show the narrator and his family (Dad standing by with a tray filled with glasses of Tang) building and enormous model rocket with a parachute. A page turn shows a field of enthusiasts as all their rockets zoom into space.
Chris Gall imbues this fantastic oversized picture book with  a personal connection that adds to the excitement of this already exciting historical event - the Apollo 11 mission that put a man on the moon. I couldn't help myself and after reading the first pages, I skipped to the back matter to see if there was an author's note. Sure enough, like the boy in his book, Gall watched the moon lading "in front of a snowy black-and-white television" and built all the models from the Apollo program. Eventually, he progressed onto to building rockets that burned solid rocket fuel (at age 12!) and studying the night skies from his front yard with an antique telescope. As an adult, he earned his pilot's license and BUILT HIS OWN PLANE!


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