Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon Book Poster Image
Thrilling story of the people behind the mission.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is nothing to concern parents, and much to inspire children, in this book.

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What's the story?

The story of the first Moon landing is a familiar one, but Catherine Thimmesh delves beneath that story to tell about a few of the people and organizations that made the project possible. From the seamstresses who sewed together the 22 layers of the spacesuits to the team that designed the parachute system that lowered the capsule into the ocean, TEAM MOON chronicles their efforts, special considerations, setbacks, and triumphs.

Illustrated primarily with archival photographs, the book includes extensive back matter, as befits an event as thoroughly chronicled as this one: an author's note, pictures and quotes from an assortment of team members, bibliography, chapter notes, additional sources (including many Web sites and other media), starting points for further exploration, info on other missions, an index, and a glossary.

Is it any good?

This book is beautifully done in large format, with lots of photos and quotations. And what a terrific idea for a children's book: using the built-in fascination of one of the greatest and most dramatic events of human history to explore the less glamorous but absolutely essential people and jobs that underlie any great achievement. The only problem is that 80 pages is far too few to provide more than a taste of the topic; it could easily have been two or three times as long and still have held young readers' interest.

At times, text superimposed on pictures is difficult to read, and the author's penchant for hyperbolic prose seems unnecessary in the face of such a hyperbolic event. But these are quibbles that won't bother most kids -- they will be too busy being enthralled by the adventure, the drama, and the fascination of the bit players who made the whole thing possible. Thimmesh has taken a grand idea and fleshed it out beautifully. It's not hard to imagine that this kind of book could inspire a child's direction in life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the space program. How was it possible to coordinate all of these people? What would it be like to be a part of such an effort?

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