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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Men Travel in Space (1971)

A small but interesting British children's book.  I like the 4 (3 plates plus cover) color paintings in this book.  It feels more 1960s but I like how the artist brings impressionism to their space art. This illustration below must have had a different "resonance" for British children of the time.

Humphrys, Leslie George.  Illustrated by J.V. Clibbon.. Men travel in space. Oxford: Blackwell. 61 p. 21 cm. Blackwell's learning library ;; no. 56 1971

This charming illustration of launching a rocket brings back my own memories of the power and joy of getting to light a rocket and watch it take off. It was always too short a flight but that just meant I got to do it again.

These illustrations seem dated but they convey the need for testing and teaching humans to go into space.

Re-entry is a favorite scene that artists attempt. The temperatures and speed involved mean the artist can emphasize how it is just a single (or a few) man against forces that seem impossible to endure.

The technology of space flight also inspires even this children's artist to depict some very strange looking scenes.

And finally, the most surreal scene of the 20th century, mem walking on the Moon. I appreciate Alan Bean for being courageous enough to try and paint what it felt like to be there. This scene will inspire artists for centuries to come. (But hopefully even better ones will come along).

Friday, June 3, 2016

Rockets into Space (1955)

Rockets into Space is an early SRA booklet.  SRA (Science Reading Associates) created materials for classroom use. The  SRA Reading Laboratory was a big part of my elementary school education.

Joseph, Alexander. Illustrated by Merrick, Don. Rockets into Space. Chicago: Science Research Associates. (48 p.)  22 cm. Softcover.

  Produced for use in schools this pamphlet presents basic rocket theory. Also discusses atomic fueled rockets, and a visit to the moon. "Modern World of Science" series.