In this impressive picture book, an aspiring astronaut imagines a trip to the moon from soup to nuts—and gains a bird's eye–perspective on why it's important to protect his planet. McNulty (The Elephant Who Couldn't Forget
) adopts a playful tone as she takes the young hero through preparations, liftoff, a moonwalk and the return trip, mixing hard facts ("If you average 3,750 miles per hour, you will get there in two-and-a-half days) with poetic phrases ("the moon, the mysterious moon,/ glows like a pearl in the black, black sky"). The highlight occurs when the boy astronaut discovers the plaque and flag left by the men of Apollo 11
in 1969, linking him to a long legacy of courageous American space explorers. Kellogg's (Is Your Mama a Llama?
) sweeping spreads of realistic space- and moonscapes strike just the right balance of beauty and eeriness; one of the most dramatic shows the hero as a tiny, doll-like figure standing at a point where the moon's silvery, barren landscape meets the pitch-black depths of the galaxy. As the returning astronaut contemplates the earth from the vantage point of space, the narrative turns a bit saccharine ("Air and water are Earth's special blessings./ .../ you promise you will always do your best/ to protect all life on our beautiful Earth"). Yet Kellogg's four-panel gatefold celebrating all the earth's inhabitants adds substance to McNulty's call to action, encompassing whales and penguins, as well as cavemen and contemporary children at a swimming hole against a backdrop of spires, domes and skyscrapers. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)