Humans (of the American variety) landed on the moon in 1969. That auspicious day was preceded by many decades of research, space exploration and competition amongst nations — in what was dubbed the space race. For anyone who lived it, this was an exciting time, and children’s books reflect the bright and shiny hopes of a generation — future astronauts all!
In the next two posts, I’ll look at two vintage books from this exciting era: Space, Time and Rockets (1952) and The Monkey in the Rocket (1962). Both books are out-of-print but still available second-hand.
Today I’ll look at:
Space, Time and Rockets: Written by Rheta Randolph, illustrated by Jacque Stain, published by Paxton-Slade, NYC, 1952
Summary: Beautifully illustrated, this “Child Approved” reader introduced 1950’s American child to the past, present and future of space travel — and is written ingeniously in the style of a “how to” manual for the future astronaut.
The books starts out with a wonderful introduction by Catherine Barry, then the Assistant Curator of the Hayden Planetarium, with some predictions to capture any child’s imagination:
Prediction 1: “The children of today, no doubt, will be the regular commuters of the future in outer space.”
Reality: Partly true. The average human is not yet living or working in space (Jetson style!), but we do regularly send people and rockets into space. So common, this triumph goes unnoticed (sadly) by many.
Prediction 2: “…it does not seem far fetched to believe that we might some day be spending a summer vacation on the moon…”
Reality: It took a while, but this day is coming.
What your rocket ship needs to fly to the moon (“and then off we go!”):
How to make your own toy rocket:
What an astronaut wears in space:
How to make your own helmet:
So you’re not late for dinner, a travel schedule to help you plan your trip. Love the cautions “cannot be responsible for delays en route caused by meteor showers…” and for more information “consult nearest space depot.”
How to make your own telescope:
Reality check: Now sixty-years old, the book obviously includes dated factual information but it’s a great history of the race-to-space, with the added bonus of practical activities to engage the young reader. And the wonderful writing stands the test of time. For adults, it is a real blast from the past!
Next review: “The Monkey in the Rocket” written by Jean Bethell, illustrated by Sergio Leone, published by Wonder Books, 1962