The Mission That Changed Everything | Apollo 8

Often eclipsed by the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the groundbreaking December 1968 Apollo 8 mission is finally getting it due during its 50th anniversary year.


The 1968 Apollo 8 mission is often eclipsed by the July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. But the Apollo 8 flight was notable for several reasons: it was the first mission to leave Earth’s orbit and travel around the “dark side” of moon (losing communication with NASA for 36 tense minutes), and for its crew’s December 24th broadcast of a reading from the Book of Genesis. However, it's probably best known for the “Earthrise” photo, the first image of our planet from space, which sent a powerful environmental message to humankind and is credited with the impetus for the annual Earth Day celebrations around the globe. This trio of books offer looks at that significant flight.

GLADSTONE, James. Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World. illus. by Christy Lundy. 32p. Owlkids. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771473163.
PreS-Gr 2 –1968 was a year replete with political upheaval in the United States, yet something fascinating halted people’s minds, reminding them that Earth was home to us all. Through the eyes of a young girl, Gladstone depicts the Apollo 8 launch. This informational picture book for primary schoolers focuses first on people as they gather to listen to the radio or watch TV to witness the liftoff. Then, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, amazed with the view of the Earth and the moon, take the iconic picture, “Earthrise.” The rhythmic narrative steadily builds suspense and captures the astronauts’ awe, and the artwork nicely complements the text. Lundy’s soft palette of earthy tones and muted pinks and yellows captures the historical time period with a pleasing retro vibe. An ending note emphasizes to readers the importance of the titular photo asking, “What message does Earthrise send to you?” VERDICT A fine snapshot of a milestone event in U.S. and world history for robust nonfiction picture book collections.–Kathia Ibacache, Simi Valley Public Library, CA

SANDLER, Martin W. Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything. 176p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Candlewick. Oct. 2018. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780763694890.
Gr 5 Up –Climb aboard the mission to the moon that paved the way for the future of space exploration. In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into Earth’s orbit, the space race had begun and the United States was losing. In response, NASA was created and, by 1961, President John F. Kennedy made exploring space a priority. Many missions, both manned and unmanned, were launched in the years that followed. In 1968, the three men onboard Apollo 8 were quite literally going where no man had ever gone before: around the moon. Sandler’s work is full of detailed research and descriptions of the space race and provides readers with the context needed to understand why Apollo 8 was such a momentous event. The main narrative is broken up with profiles of significant individuals and concepts. Sandler traces mankind’s curiosity about the moon from ancient mythology to the 1960s. Full-color photographs enhance nearly every page and offer readers a greater understanding of this revolutionary mission. VERDICT An out-of-this-world exploration of the space race—and a must-have for most nonfiction collections.–Kevin McGuire, Woodland Hills School District, PA

SLADE, Suzanne. Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon. illus. by Thomas Gonzalez. 144p. bibliog. notes. photos. Peachtree. Sept. 2018. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781682630136.
Gr 5 Up –This stunning book accurately details the U.S. space race to the moon and the very real dangers and pitfalls that accompanied it. Slade’s carefully crafted, often alliterative text, written in free verse, is both succinct and readable, drawing this large topic down to the most necessary and interesting facts with enough detail to excite young teens as well as adults who may have lived through the missions. Gonzalez states in a note that his goal was “to create the illusion of being there,” and indeed he has, from the science fiction–looking cover, which shows the moon’s glowing reflection on an astronaut’s helmet, to the lifelike portraits of the astronauts in pastels, watercolor, colored pencil, and airbrush. The text emphasizes the short amount of time it took for the program to succeed, from the first ill-fated mission in January, 1967, to Apollo 11 in July, 1969, that carried two men to the moon. VERDICT Truly out of this world. A must-buy for most poetry collections.–Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH

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