November 22, 2009

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon


T-Minus: The Race to the Moon by Jim Ottaviani. illustrated by Zander Cannon & Kevin Cannon (no relation)

Pages: 124 pgs.
Ages: 10+
First Published: May, 2009
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

"...New UN headquarters in the Big Apple..."


Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee.

Summary: Starting in 1957, this non-fiction book tells the story of the space race between the United States and Russia as they each strove to be the first to make a more impressive advancement in space technology, which started with the Russians being the first to launch a satellite into space and ended with the US being the first to set foot on the moon. The book focuses on the men and women working behind the scenes rather than the astronauts themselves.

Comments: This is a perfect example of how a graphic book can be so much more rewarding than the traditional textual book. Personally, this is not a subject I would ever pick up a regular book about as it is just not something that would normally interest me enough to read about it. But one glance through this book and my attention was immediately caught. The illustration was realistic, facial expressions showed real emotion, the black and white treatment gave both a feel of the past and a "space-y" feel. I wanted to start reading! And what an enjoyable book it is. The book is told in story format switching between the US and Russia. When the move to Russia has been made the reader is aware as the script has changed to include a backwards N denoting the Soviet language. There are plenty of footnotes, each found immediately under the frame in question which is a very user friendly design, much easier than having to look at the bottom of the page or as often happens in non-fiction, hunting around at the back of the book! Throughout the book there are also side panels which show a rocket and report chronologically of every attempt, both Russian and American, and whether it was successful or whether it failed. Included is data such as flight duration and, later on, astronauts aboard.

Finally, down to the story itself. Very well-written, interesting and compelling. I very much enjoyed the reading and now know a lot of information about the space race that I had no idea of before reading the book and probably would never have known had not such a book been presented to me. Kids and teens who are interested in space will be drawn to this book and those who aren't will be drawn to the graphic presentation and all will experience a fascinating read and learn an interesting part of our recent history. Highly recommended!

Nicola