Moonwalkers by Mark Greenwood
Illustrated by Terry Denton.
Penguin Random House Australia, 2019. ISBN 9780143793557.
(Ages: 5-8) Recommended. Themes: Apollo 11 moon landing, Imaginative play. 2019 is the fiftieth anniversary of the first humans walking on the moon but this new publication also comes amidst the imminent growth of Australia's own space industry. The book looks at the moon landing in a playful way, as three kids growing up near 'The Dish' in outback Australia focus their imaginative play and creations around all things space. They are clearly fascinated by the idea of space travel: building model rockets, playing astronauts and simulating their own moon landing. When it comes time for the real landing, they gather in front of the television with their parents and watch as the astronauts step down the ladder and onto the moon. This really recreates what it would have felt like as a kid when this happened: their excitement and wonder are palpable. There are toys and stuff all over the ground, the kids are just having the time of their life and the parents seem laidback and encouraging of the children and their play. It harks back to a simpler time, when the world was an open book, full of possibilities; as we should all feel as children I guess!
There is a tried and tested collaborative partnership between Denton and Greenwood that works perfectly again here. Busy, fun illustrations and touches of humour and interesting additions make this appealing for all young children learning about and already fascinated by space exploration. All the technical detail is relegated to the front and back pages (a short introduction to the mission and the astronauts at the beginning and a flowchart and a few other facts at the end). Young children of today are growing up with parents who don't have first-hand memory of the moon landing to pass on and who probably take it for granted, so it's an important milestone to share. It also reminds us of a time when Australia's involvement in space was significant, at a time when there is once again a promising future (perhaps we can encourage those astronaut dreams again!).
Teachers' notes are available.