Friday, July 1, 2016

You Will Go to the Moon (1959) (Part 2)

Continuing with my 500th ULTRAMEGA Posting to celebrate my favorite children's book.

When we last left our hero he was on his way to the Moon!

The illustration above of watching a baseball game from space haunted my dreams. To have space travel so ordinary that we could just "hang out" and eat snacks while we went to the Moon.

This is what is known as a "text dump". The author had so much they needed/wanted to say that this is the wordiest page in the book.

Bounding across the surface of the Moon, colorful and cool "Moon cars", and mountain climbing with one hand. The Moon never seemed so fun.  Which lead to my favorite page in the book, the view from the top looking down at the moon base. I must have returned to this pages hundreds of times.

And a final look ahead to when we will go to Mars. The vision of a frontier that waits for us and the hope that someone will be inspired to go further yet.

The authors added a 2 page glossary of terms at the back to give parents and educators a little help with the questions a child might ask. The book has only 186 words and they tried to limit to words a child might already know. This gave them a chance to add a few technical terms.

1971 reprint edition (updated for Apollo)

1972 British reprint edition

The reprint illustrations were a shadow of the originals with a paler color scheme.

Friday, June 24, 2016

You Will Go to the Moon (1959) (Part 1)

This is my 500th post! So I am going back for a deep look at the first book I ever posted about,
my personal favorite children's space book. 

It concerns an imaginary trip to the Moon taken by a young boy and his adult friend. The rocket, and space station, are very much Von Braun style, while the Moon landing craft and Moon base are more British Interplanetary Society designs. The cover states that for accuracy the manuscript was submitted to the Office of the Director of Research and Development of the United States Air Force.

This is meant to be a sort of ultimate post for this book so I can bring you EVERYTHING I can about it. So first has to be why the cover above is different from the cover below.

The first cover is the original paper cover as issued but the second cover is that of the "I can read it all by myself" Beginner Book series. This was a series of books by mail that parents could order. As you can see they were cloth covers (for reduction in cost). They put hundreds of thousand of copies  into the hands of children across America in the early 1960s.

These were the first Beginner Books as supervised by Dr. Suess. He had started with "The Cat in the Hat" and had been encouraged to invite other authors to write these simple books under the Beginner Books imprint.

Freeman, Mae and Freeman, Ira. Illustrated by Patterson, Robert. You Will Go to the Moon. New York: Beginner Books. (54 p.) 24 cm. Illustrated Boards, DJ. 1959. "I can read it all by myself Beginner Books " (195/195). Also 1971 edition.

One of the most attractive things about the book is the vibrant colors used. The blues, yellows and oranges are used to make each page an "eyewitness" painting.  The book is a true picture book with a large illustration on every page.

It is a version of the Von Braun rocket that we had seen in Collier's in 1952. The artist chose to simplify many details but the view from the gantry is predictive of the Apollo program as well as harkening back to the Tin Tin books.

One of my favorite rocket launch paintings I have ever seen. Arranged with a diagonal perspective the rocket is poised to leave the page.

A beautiful view of the earth from space and of rocket staging. With the very simple text the child (me!) could read the story of just follow the action until I needed words to explain what was happening.


The Von Braun space station is almost iconistic in these illustrations. I like the framing in the enlarged window. You also start to notice how the artist changes perspective at will so you can see all that is happening. Also notice how the author made some words red to increase the impact.

The illustrations come closer and closer to the Collier's of 1952-54. The military uniforms, the space station as a military outpost with a canteen and films. And the introduction of the "Space Bug" as the next tool to go to the Moon.

So onward to next week when we will go to the Moon and explore this book further.  See ya then....

Friday, June 17, 2016

You and Space Travel (1951)

One of my favorite early space books. The illustrations are impressionistic and very "50s" in style.

Lewellen, John. Illustrated by Fitch, Winnie and Phelan, Joe. You and Space Travel.  Chicago: Children's Press. Inc. (60 p.) 24 cm. Cloth, DJ. 1951

Reprinted numerous times this is one of the first children's books about the possibility of space travel. It has illustrations primarily of rockets and how they work.  There are several spacesuit illustrations as well as a landing on the Moon. See 1958 reprint.

Why didn't the first astronauts look like this?  A brave group of balding and hipster explorers.

 I also have been waiting for my "rocket stop" (Public transit at its finest.)

In case you doubted that children's authors worked with scientists and engineers to research these books, this acknowledgment should make you feel better.