Review of How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure

How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure
by John Rocco; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    264 pp.    g
10/20    978-0-525-64741-6    $29.99
Library ed.  978-0-525-64742-3    $32.99
e-book ed.  978-0-525-64743-0    $17.99

In seven parts arranged chronologically, Rocco delivers a strikingly beautiful and highly informative account of the United States’s audacious effort to send human beings to the moon. Tackling both historical and scientific concepts, the book examines everything from the space race to the mechanics of an F-1 rocket engine, with equal clarity. A plethora of full-color pencil, watercolor, and digital illustrations supports the conversational (and mostly present-tense) text. Frequent side panels feature biographical information about historical figures (often emphasizing the contributions of women, people of color, and production workers) as well as instructions for straightforward experiments for readers to try. Through skillful scaffolding, scientific concepts build in complexity throughout the book (e.g., Newton’s Laws of Motion lead to Draper’s Inertial Guidance System). Many formidable engineering challenges are presented through a clearly defined problem/solution format. From delicate portraits to intricate schematics to fiery liftoffs, Rocco creates a strong visual continuity throughout. The final chapter is a thrilling minute-by-minute account of the Apollo 11 mission, greatly enhanced by the previous information. A thoughtful epilogue praises the collaborative spirit of the Apollo missions and challenges readers with the following: “What new grand idea will bring together hundreds of thousands of individuals to achieve a common goal?” Extensive back matter includes a fact sheet on piloted Apollo missions, research/art notes, sources, further reading, commonly used acronyms, a map of Apollo lunar landings, and an index.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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