The true story of Apollo 8, the first crewed spaceship to break free of the Earth’s orbit and reach the moon.
The year was 1968, and the American people were still reeling from the spacecraft fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew a year earlier. On top of that, there were rumors that the Russian cosmonauts were getting ready to fly around the moon. NASA realized that they needed to take a bold step — and that they needed to take it now. They wanted to win the space race against Russia and hold true to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. So in a risky move, a few days before Christmas of that year, they sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to the moon!
This book tells the story of these three men, the frantic rush to get their rocket ready, and the journey that gave the American people — and the world — a new look at the planet we live on and the corner of space we inhabit.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: None
Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 6-9. In 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were training for their mission to orbit Earth when they learned that their planned flight had been changed. With only 16 weeks to prepare, they would be circling the moon instead. This young readers edition of Kluger’s Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon (2017) briefly traces Borman’s career, before focusing on those 16 weeks of specialized training and the memorable six-day journey. Full of details, this account of the astronauts’ experiences gives readers the sense that they’re along for the ride, keenly aware of the physical challenges of space flight, but sharing moments of awestruck wonder as well. After explaining the backdrop of the Space Race, Kluger tells the main story with a good balance of technological details and human-interest narratives, including the scenes of the astronauts’ families during the long, tense days between liftoff and splashdown. Illustrations (some not seen) include photos and diagrams. An engaging, informative account of the Apollo 8 mission.
Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2018)
In this account of the Apollo 8 flight, astronaut Frank Borman and his crewmates take the first manned trip around the moon at the height of the 1960s space race. With the assistance of Shamir, Kluger introduces readers to the central figure, Frank Borman, as a boy with dreams of flying who becomes a groundbreaking astronaut. Though there were earlier flights, the book begins with the Gemini 7 and includes all missions through Apollo 8. The pacing until the Apollo flights is slow, but the fascinating details about eating, sleeping, and taking care of business while in space will keep readers turning pages. The co-authors thoughtfully and naturally explain unfamiliar concepts such as how rockets launch and what makes them fly. The writing is best when exploring the people behind the history—the astronauts’ families, friendships, and sorrow at the loss of the Apollo 1 crew—but these compelling details are too few. Similarly, the narrative paints an incomplete picture of the 1960s, with only brief mentions of the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, and the Cold War. Though the tone overall is matter-of-fact, there are a few beautiful, poetic lines. The epilogue is a romantic ode to the space race with reminders of its remarkable legacy. In an author’s note, Kluger briefly describes his process and sources, but there is no formal bibliography. This detailed account of a lesser-known space flight varies in narrative quality but does just enough to draw in readers who grew up well after the space race. (photographs, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
About the Author
Jeffrey Kluger is a senior writer for TIME. He joined TIME as a contributor in 1996, and was named a senior writer in 1998. He has written a number of cover stories, including reports on the connection between sex and health, the Mars Pathfinder landing, the loss of the shuttle Columbia, and the collision aboard the Mir space station.
In 2002, Mr. Kluger along with two other colleagues, won First Place in the Overseas Press Club of America’s Whitman Bassow Award for best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues for their “Global Warming” cover package (April 9, 2001).
Prior to joining TIME, he was a staff writer for Discover magazine, where he wrote the Light Elements humor column. He was also a writer and editor for New York Times Business World Magazine, Family Circle, and Science Digest.
Mr. Kluger is the co-author, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, which served as the basis of the “Apollo 13” movie released in 1995. He later wrote Journey Beyond Selene, a book about the unmanned exploration of the solar system, and is currently writing a book for Putnam about Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.
Mr. Kluger is also a licensed attorney, and intermittently taught science journalism at New York University.
Jeffrey Kluger lives in Manhattan, New York, with his wife and two daughters. His website is jeffreykluger.com.
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