nonfiction nuggets…about the first men on the moon!

Team Moon:  How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon, by Catherine Thimmesh 

This week marked the 41st anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s first steps on the moon:  July 20, 1969.  I remember it clearly, sprawled out with our lovely avocado green and harvest gold cushions, watching those grainy black-and-white images, hearing the uncontainable excitement in Walter Cronkite’s voice.  

Team Moon tells the behind-the-scenes story of that event-seen-around-the-world.  How, despite the fact that only 3 men were in the spaceship, “it was a team of four hundred thousand people that put them there.  They were the flight directors, controllers, planners, and engineers; the rocket designers and builders and technicians; the managers, supervisors, quality control and safety inspectors; the programmers, electricians, welders, seamstresses, gluers, painters, geologists, scientists, trainers, and navigators…Apollo 11 is their story, too.”  

Each section of this large-format, 80-page book, tells about challenges that the team had to overcome, from unexpected alarms going off during the lunar landing, to designs for space suits that were both safe and flexible, to fierce winds threatening the TV satellite dish in Australia, to possible alien moon bugs coming back to Earth with the astronauts.  The mission is covered from the very earliest planning stages until splashdown.   And unless you are some sort of walking Space Program Encyclopedia, there are sure to be dozens of behind-the-scenes details you did not know before.  Fascinating stuff. 

The pages are lavishly filled with photographs, and in closing are many current pictures of the moon team members with their comments on what it was like to be involved in this historic process.  Extensive end notes include ways to learn more about each of the Apollo missions.  Geared for perhaps ages 9 and up, this is a great book for all those who dream of flying.