Monday, March 4, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Man on the Moon: How a Photograph Made Anything Seem Possible

Nonfiction Monday is a weekly meme in the Kidlitosphere that invites bloggers to read and review a nonfiction book on Monday as a way to promote high-quality nonfiction titles.  Each week, a different blogger "hosts" Nonfiction Monday and provides a roundup of all the posts.  This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Supratentorial!

Man on the Moon: How a Photograph Made Anything Seem Possible  by Pamela Dell

There are certain photos that are so memorable, so evocative, so pervasive that they have become a part of our cultural heritage.  The photograph of Buzz Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon (which, incidentally, was taken by fellow astronaut and "one small step for man" moonwalker himself Neil Armstrong) is one of those iconic images.  The story of that photograph and how it changed our world is the story of Man on the Moon.

With an opening so well-crafted that you'd think you were reading a suspense novel and no shortage of other photographs taken from the spacecraft, Man on the Moon is a gripping and concise account of the lunar landing and explanation of the impact of this world-changing event.  And then there are the cool tidbits, like how the phrase "the Eagle has landed" comes from the transmission sent from Armstrong to Mission Control, to let them know that the lunar module, the Eagle, had touched down on the moon's surface, or that Armstrong's "famous" words when he stepped on the surface of the moon were NOT "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," but rather, "That's one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind."  A moving passage on the page alternate a full-page full-color print of Armstrong's photo describes how photographs capture and freeze moments of time to tell a complex story that encapsulates not just that particular moment, but everything that led up to it, and conveys meaning.  From there, the author takes the reader back into the story of how Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins wound up traveling to the moon, the tragedies that had to be overcome, the secrecy surrounding the space program and the bitter rivalry between Soviet Union communism and American capitalism to conquer the final frontier: space.  An intricate look at the photograph reveals details that a viewer might miss in a casual glance and the scoop on the photo editing performed by NASA to make the photo ready for mass consumption.  Also addressed is the conspiracy theory that the photo was faked.  At the book's conclusion, there is a timeline, glossary, list of additional resources, source notes, select bibliography and index.  A small but very worthwhile purchase.

Recommended for: Grades 5+; Space geeks, history buffs and students doing research should definitely check this title out.  I'm planning to put it in the hands (literally) of a student researching the lunar landing...tomorrow!

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