Big ideas can change the world as the tagline for Amulet’s latest non-fiction kids’ graphic novel series reminds us. Rocket to the Moon! kicks off the series and introduces young readers to various ‘big ideas’ throughout history starting with the race to the moon. With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing having happened just this past July this book couldn’t have come at a better time.
Kids may have been out of school when the anniversary rolled around but Rocket to the Moon! is a great way for parents to encourage kids to learn more about the momentous anniversary! The book is told from the fictional point of view of Rodman Law, a real life daredevil, who guides kids through the history of rocketry and ultimately space travel. The real Rodman Law died long before man ever reached the moon but he’s portrayed here as a bit of a comical yet no-nonsense narrator.
The book starts out by giving a brief background on rockets before delving deeper into the history starting around the end of World War II. From there the book goes full speed ahead ultimately cumulating with the successful landing of astronauts on the moon. That the book ends there helps to highlight the real purpose of this series. It focuses rather narrowly on the build up to this one event in history – and then briefly discuses the influences it may have had on our present and future in a postscript timeline of space exploration.
Rocket to the Moon! does a really good job of balancing the human element with the scientific throughout. Rodman’s appearances throughout help that as do the less narrative and more interpersonal moments showing more candid dialogue between historical figures. The book remains very grounded and while it may seem a little slow at times the pace fits the tone of the story – as well as the design. The mostly neutral tones and simpler character designs help underscore that this is as much an educational read as it is a fun graphic novel geared towards readers of all kinds.
Something else that I like about Rocket to the Moon! is it’s honestly. I like books that don’t coddle kids and try to hide the darker truths in historical stories. Don Brown acknowledges some of the darker moments in the history of rocketry from the Nazi origins of many early rocketry advances and the unfortunate fate of canine cosmonaut Laika. The author doesn’t necessarily dwell on either topic or the ethical implications but he doesn’t shy away from them either which I appreciate.
Rocket to the Moon! is a great first entry into the Big Ideas That Changed the World series. The race to the moon is a great way to introduce the series as well as get readers interested in what other ‘ideas’ may be featured. After all, what else is comparable to putting man on the moon? This is definitely a great pick for curious minds – especially those readers in the middle grade age range who still find space travel exciting and precocious elementary age readers.