Book Review: Team Moon
Reviewed by: Gina Hagler
Title: Team Moon
Author: Catherine Thimmesh
Illustrations: Full-color photographs
Reading Level: Ages 10+
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Date: June, 2006
Retail Price: $19.95
With breathtaking photos and a lively text, Team Moon will hold the attention of even the most reluctant reader as it relates behind-the-scene stories of Apollo 11: the mission in which the United States first successfully landed men on the Moon and returned them safely home.
As a child in the summer of 1969, I watched and waited with the rest of the world to see what would happen when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon. My personal belief was that he would sink up to his armpits in the lunar dust. I worried that no one had thought of that possibility. Turns out that the 400,000 people who dedicated nearly ten years of their lives to the success of the Apollo missions had meticulously planned for everything – even without the powerful computers available today.
Author Catherine Thimmesh met with many of the Team Moon members and included their words in this book. These quotes give us the inside scoop on what it was like to be a part of one of the greatest undertakings in the history of humankind. From the seamstress who helped sew the space suits together and remembers that they “didn’t worry too much until the guys on the moon started jumping up and down” which could have ruptured the inner bladder and lost all pressure in the suits, to the man who missed seeing any of the images he worked so hard to receive over the huge satellite dish because his work required him to sit with his back to the screen, it’s all here.
Each chapter details one particular segment of the Moon landing, its central challenge, and the solution to that challenge. These stories are compelling enough that my kids looked forward to picking up where they left off the night before. There are one or two places where the poor contrast of the text with the photo in the background makes it difficult to read. However, the extra attention needed to read those pieces of text is more than compensated for by the photos. Armstrong and Aldrin practiced for months to be ready for that lunar photo shoot, and the results were spectacular.
Team Moon is also a wonderful reference for the Apollo 11 mission. There are notes to the chapters, additional resources, a bibliography and glossary, and photos of the key players in the episodes mentioned in the book.
One technical comment: the artists flipped the cover photo of the Moon so that north is at the bottom and east is on the left. Parents are encouraged to take kids outside to observe the east side of the Moon in its correct orientation and show them the location of the Sea of Tranquility (the “head” of the upside down rabbit) where Apollo 11 landed.
My kids and I had a terrific time reading Team Moon and admiring the photos.
© 2006 Gina Hagler
NSS Featured Review for October 2006