Monday, May 3, 2010

The Moon Over Star

I was just under 4 years old when the world watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time. I have vague memories of launches and moonwalks being broadcast on television. I don't really remember the first one. The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (2008) tells the story of one family's experience watching that first moon landing. It starts with the family in church praying for the safety of the astronauts, then, back at the family's farmhouse, Mae, the narrator of the story, and her cousins build a rocket in the backyard with found objects and pretend they are astronauts. Gran calls the children in to gather around the television to watch the launch. Mae is inspired to dream of becoming an astronaut herself but Gramps does not share in the excitement. He says the space program is a waste of money when there are so many people in need on Earth. After the launch, the family has a picnic dinner under the stars, gazing at the moon and wondering what the astronauts are thinking. Later, they gather around the television again to watch Commander Armstrong step out onto the moon and speak his immortal words. The graphite, ink, and watercolor illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, especially the two-page spread of the rocket launch which is informed by footage of the actual launch. In the end, Gramps comes to appreciate the amazing feat of human endeavor that he has just witnessed and encourages Mae to hold on to her dreams. I absolutely love this book. It recalls a moment in history when the world stopped and watched as humans flew into space and traveled to another world and a generation was inspired to dream of great things.

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