One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong

Don Brown, Author, Don Brown, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-88401-0
Fans of Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure may wish that Brown had likewise dedicated this picture book to the singular ride that made history for his subject. Instead, the author's informal chronicle of astronaut Armstrong's life focuses primarily on his childhood, then skips ahead to his milestone flight in the final spreads. The book opens in 1932, when two-year-old Neil, perched on his father's shoulders, watches airplanes race. Readers next see him four years later, riding in a plane for the first time, an experience that inspires a ""magical dream"" in which he ""held his breath and hovered above the ground."" Young Neil makes model airplanes, reads Air Travel magazine, peers at the moon through a neighbor's telescope and eventually begins flying lessons. But Armstrong's training to become an astronaut and his career leading up to the 1969 flight to the moon get less emphasis. And the conclusion is a bit ethereal (after he stepped onto the moon, he ""became a hero to millions of people. But inside him was the memory of an ordinary boy.... A boy who loved books and music....A boy who dreamed of hanging in the air suspended only by a trapped breath."" Similarly sketchy, Brown's airy, pen-and-ink and watercolor art does little to get this spotty biography off the ground. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Children's
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