While most of us adults vividly remember Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon, our kids are on the dark side of the moon when it comes to space exploration. The world is such a busy place that few of us are as focused on current space activities as we once were on Apollo missions.
Alexandra Siy's Footprints on the Moon provides kids with an excellent introduction to the Space Race of earlier days and presents an informed overview for everyone from advanced kindergartners (with help from an adult) to elementary school students. Adults will enjoy a peek at this book as well; it will no doubt bring back memories of your own Apollo-watching days and probably inform you of a few details you either never knew or had forgotten.
The straightforward text takes a broad approach, beginning with a quick look at the phases of the moon and touching on Stonehenge, Galileo's telescopes, the Wright Brothers and early rockets. Most of the book concentrates on space exploration, starting with Sputnik I in 1957 through the Apollo missions. In just a few paragraphs Siy outlines the race between the United States and the Soviet Union, explaining President Kennedy's pledge to send a man to the moon before the 1960s ended. Despite the fact that Footprints on the Moon combines a big subject with fairly brief text, Siy does a good job of conveying the drama of several of the space missions, such as the first glimpse of the far side of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission, and, of course, the supreme triumph of Armstrong and Aldrin's first moon walk.
Adding to the excitement are superb photos throughout, all with edifying captions. Did you know, for instance, that Armstrong's space suit was 15 layers thick and had 500 parts? It took him two hours just to put it on.
Siy continues the story with successive Apollo missions. She mentions the unmanned probe Lunar Prospecter and includes nifty drawings of what the future might look like. The book concludes with a handy timeline of moon exploration and suggested websites and books for further investigation.
Footprints on the Moon will lead young readers to seek out more information on these grand adventures in space.