Published to commemorate the landing of Apollo 11, the first manned spaceship to land on the Moon, this book also tells about Australia’s special role in beaming pictures from a satellite dish in Parkes to an estimated audience of 600 million people around the world.
It is July 1969, and Billy wishes he could fly to the Moon like the astronauts on Apollo 11.
In a sheep paddock next to his home in Parkes, Australia, is the largest telescope on earth. It is used to track space missions and beams pictures back to Billy’s television.
A charming, fun-filled picture book to read to young children. Older primary school-aged children will also enjoy the story and the information about space travel in the pictures.
Billy pretends he is an astronaut in his lounge room with siblings Buzz and Mickey.
The children build a model of the Saturn V rocket, speak through “mission control” walkie-talkies, gather “moon rocks” from their garden, wrap each other in shiny foil spacesuits and countdown to lift off from under their pretend cubby house spaceship where they munch on chocolate pudding and astronaut ice-cream.
Interestingly gender pronouns of male astronauts including all reference to the first ‘man on the Moon’ are left out of this book. Neil Armstrong is said to be the first ‘person to walk on the Moon’; the space mission is referred to as “the mission to put humans on the Moon…”
Neil Armstrong’s first words as he climbs down the ladder and walks on the Moon are paraphrased on the dark, dramatic middle page spread as: “It was one small step for a man, and one giant leap for mankind.”
One could easily think the first astronaut was a woman.
The children gaze through a telescope and are said to be “searching for a man on the Moon.” The politically correct illustration gives a variety of possible “man-things” on the Moon including a woman on the Moon, two men on the Moon arguing about which of them is actually the first man on the Moon, a Moon man alien, a dragon on the Moon, and a little bird on the Moon saying “Oops! I should be on the other page.”
A picture of the man in the Moon is culture friendly of course, noting that different cultures imagine different pictures on the surface of the Moon such as a rabbit, dragon, woman or even some words.
A fun book, but in the end bending to political correctness. Is it not possible anymore to publish a book for children simply about the first man on the Moon?
Jane Fagan worked as a children’s and reference librarian for 14 years. She has a B.A. and a Grad Dip Library and Information Studies from Melbourne University.