cover image A Man on the Moon

A Man on the Moon

Anastasia Suen, Benrei Huang. Viking Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87393-7

Opening on an inviting, fanciful note (with the words, ""Moon, do you remember your first visitors?"" superimposed on a spacescape spotlighting earth and a distant moon), Suen's inaugural children's book then abandons this sense of whimsy for a rather flat recounting of man's first moon landing in 1969. The author whittles down Apollo 11's pivotal mission to the barest bones (""Aldrin and Armstrong took pictures, collected rocks, and planted the American flag""), omitting details or anecdotes that the targeted audience might welcome. Instead of describing what Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong did or said as their spacecraft soared toward its target, Suen dryly states ""Hours and days passed. The people on Earth watched the astronauts on TV."" A concluding author's note explains her own connection to the space program (her father worked at Cape Canaveral), and her recollections of this milestone in space exploration (""I ran into the backyard to see the ball of fire rise, rise, rise into the sky"") impart the energy and child-centered point of view that's lacking in the narrative. Huang's (The Quiet Way Home) full-spread pictures are often staid and offer little visual variety. The milestone event, a great idea for a picture book, unfortunately here feels more like a missed opportunity than a mission accomplished. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)