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How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure

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This beautifully illustrated, oversized guide to the people and technology of the moon landing by award-winning author/illustrator John Rocco (illustrator of the Percy Jackson series) is a must-have for space fans, classrooms, and tech geeks. Everyone knows of Neil Armstrong's famous first steps on the moon. But what did it really take to get us there? The Moon landing is on This beautifully illustrated, oversized guide to the people and technology of the moon landing by award-winning author/illustrator John Rocco (illustrator of the Percy Jackson series) is a must-have for space fans, classrooms, and tech geeks. Everyone knows of Neil Armstrong's famous first steps on the moon. But what did it really take to get us there? The Moon landing is one of the most ambitious, thrilling, and dangerous ventures in human history. This exquisitely researched and illustrated book tells the stories of the 400,000 unsung heroes--the engineers, mathematicians, seamstresses, welders, and factory workers--and their innovations and life-changing technological leaps forward that allowed NASA to achieve this unparalleled accomplishment. From the shocking launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik to the triumphant splashdown of Apollo 11, Caldecott Honor winner John Rocco answers every possible question about this world-altering mission. Each challenging step in the space race is revealed, examined, and displayed through stunning diagrams, experiments, moments of crisis, and unforgettable human stories. Explorers of all ages will want to pore over every page in this comprehensive chronicle detailing the grandest human adventure of all time!


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This beautifully illustrated, oversized guide to the people and technology of the moon landing by award-winning author/illustrator John Rocco (illustrator of the Percy Jackson series) is a must-have for space fans, classrooms, and tech geeks. Everyone knows of Neil Armstrong's famous first steps on the moon. But what did it really take to get us there? The Moon landing is on This beautifully illustrated, oversized guide to the people and technology of the moon landing by award-winning author/illustrator John Rocco (illustrator of the Percy Jackson series) is a must-have for space fans, classrooms, and tech geeks. Everyone knows of Neil Armstrong's famous first steps on the moon. But what did it really take to get us there? The Moon landing is one of the most ambitious, thrilling, and dangerous ventures in human history. This exquisitely researched and illustrated book tells the stories of the 400,000 unsung heroes--the engineers, mathematicians, seamstresses, welders, and factory workers--and their innovations and life-changing technological leaps forward that allowed NASA to achieve this unparalleled accomplishment. From the shocking launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik to the triumphant splashdown of Apollo 11, Caldecott Honor winner John Rocco answers every possible question about this world-altering mission. Each challenging step in the space race is revealed, examined, and displayed through stunning diagrams, experiments, moments of crisis, and unforgettable human stories. Explorers of all ages will want to pore over every page in this comprehensive chronicle detailing the grandest human adventure of all time!

30 review for How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure

  1. 4 out of 5

    G.

    There is only one word to describe this book: monumental. Both in subject and achievement, this is the space nerds ultimate book on how we solved one of the biggest problems in history: how to leave our planet and land on another world and get back safely. The scope is enormous but Rocco breaks it down in a way that anyone can understand and be totally in awe of. A must read book for STEM related classes.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I agree with author David Macaulay: "Nothing short of stunning!" John Rocco tells the story of all the people, all the technology, and all the uses of science that led to our first trip to the moon. It's an inspiring story, a story with nothing but heroes, people using their minds and resources to solve a big problem by solving hundreds and thousands of little problems. Every picture in the book was drawn by John Rocco which adds to the magnificence of this book. Anyone with any interest in space I agree with author David Macaulay: "Nothing short of stunning!" John Rocco tells the story of all the people, all the technology, and all the uses of science that led to our first trip to the moon. It's an inspiring story, a story with nothing but heroes, people using their minds and resources to solve a big problem by solving hundreds and thousands of little problems. Every picture in the book was drawn by John Rocco which adds to the magnificence of this book. Anyone with any interest in space would love this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    This is a soaring triumph - stellar in every way! John Rocco set out to explain how every part of the Apollo/Saturn machine worked and how it was built. He especially wanted to show young readers the science and problem solving that was involved along the way. And he wanted to introduce some of the thousands of unsung people who contributed to this monumental achievement. He does all that in this fascinating, detailed and visually magnificent chronicle. He begins with the origins of the Space Race This is a soaring triumph - stellar in every way! John Rocco set out to explain how every part of the Apollo/Saturn machine worked and how it was built. He especially wanted to show young readers the science and problem solving that was involved along the way. And he wanted to introduce some of the thousands of unsung people who contributed to this monumental achievement. He does all that in this fascinating, detailed and visually magnificent chronicle. He begins with the origins of the Space Race in 1957 and a brief history of rocketry and then plunges into the nitty gritty of designing, building, testing and flying to the moon with all the steps, problems and triumphs along the way. As someone who has read many histories of this period AND lived through it, the early history was bit slow but I understand the necessity for young readers. The book becomes deeply interesting quickly at Chapter 2 with the discussion of the process of designing a rocket. While this is a solid historical account of the Apollo effort, the focus is on the science, technology and engineering achievements. Rocco's prose is clear and understandable as he carefully distilled oceans of information for young readers. He does an excellent job of providing a thorough explanation without overwhelming the text. The tone is just right, informative, concise and filled with wonderful tidbits of related topics to heighten interest even for those only generally interested in the technical details. Space food, the disgusting but imperative issue of going to the bathroom in space, the history of the "human computers," and, something I always wondered about, what are all those people in the command center doing at all those monitors. A wonderful feature of the book are the many sections that show some of the scientific problems faced along the way and the solution. Often these also include a simple experiment that kids can do that demonstrates the science behind the solution. A highlight for me are the many short biographical inserts that feature some of the people involved in the effort who contributed important ideas, developments or efforts along the way. So many of these people were critical to the success of the mission but received very little public attention. Rocco includes people like Ann Montgomery, an engineer and the only woman allowed on the launchpad, Charles Draper who developed the Guidance system, or Eleanor Foraker, the Seamstress Manager for the Apollo Spacesuits. Rocco explains in a Author's Note in the back matter that although there are plethora of photographs, blueprints and drawings available, he chose to create all the illustrations himself. He did that in order to make the concepts more accessible and understandable for readers without being overwhelmed by extraneous details. He also chose to use color as most of the original photographs are visual materials are black and white. The result is visually stunning as well as being deeply absorbing. I read this in galley with only some of the planned back matter included. The Note on the Research was extremely interesting and even in galley form the visual impact of the book is outstanding. I am eager to see it in finished copy. This is a must purchase for every library collection and a perfect choice as a gift book for every science loving student.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa D

    What a masterpiece ! This book should be used in classrooms and available in museums, especially space history museums! I love this author! This book should Win a lot of awards! I loved it! This book is highly recommended for all who are in interested in NASA & space travel! What a masterpiece ! This book should be used in classrooms and available in museums, especially space history museums! I love this author! This book should Win a lot of awards! I loved it! This book is highly recommended for all who are in interested in NASA & space travel!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antoine Revoy

    With more than 250 gorgeous pages of rigorously researched and elegantly visualized stories of challenges, met and resolved, John Rocco's HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON is a master work befitting one of humanity's most daring and improbable collective achievements. HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON inspires wonder at human ingenuity, science and engineering, while being at its heart a story about people. It beautifully celebrates the sum of the work of individuals—some famous, some unheralded—whom each in their own With more than 250 gorgeous pages of rigorously researched and elegantly visualized stories of challenges, met and resolved, John Rocco's HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON is a master work befitting one of humanity's most daring and improbable collective achievements. HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON inspires wonder at human ingenuity, science and engineering, while being at its heart a story about people. It beautifully celebrates the sum of the work of individuals—some famous, some unheralded—whom each in their own important way contributed to this mission. As told in the book's opening pages, pioneering German rocket engineer Wernher von Braun was inspired as a child by Jules Verne's fictional novel FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. In turn, this book will surely transmit to its readers* a love of nature, problem-solving and adventure. *My wife and I bought copies for both our young nephews/nieces and for family members who are engineers and doctors. It is a welcome breath of inspiration and optimism in mankind, for all ages, during tough times.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I received an electronic ARC from Random House Children's Publishing through NetGalley. It's obvious this author has done his research. Rocco presents the entire process for the Apollo moon trips in one source. He begins with the background of the Mercury and Gemini missions along with the Cold War competitive drive. From there, he explores every aspect of the Apollo missions from design through the entire Apollo 11 trip and landing. The detailed information may be too murch for some middle grade I received an electronic ARC from Random House Children's Publishing through NetGalley. It's obvious this author has done his research. Rocco presents the entire process for the Apollo moon trips in one source. He begins with the background of the Mercury and Gemini missions along with the Cold War competitive drive. From there, he explores every aspect of the Apollo missions from design through the entire Apollo 11 trip and landing. The detailed information may be too murch for some middle grade readers but it is balanced with diagrams and text boxes that provide information in an easy to follow format. Rocco captures the excitement and incredible science needed to make this happen. He honors the many diverse people involved as well as the many companies who had to work together to build the needed equipment from the rocket on down. Further information provided at the end of the book - sources, bibliography, glossary. Perfect all in one book for readers who are interested in how our space program evolved.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I received an eARC courtesy of Crown Books for Young Readers & NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book is a powerhouse. While some of the details might be more than what an average middle grade reader might be interested in learning, there is so much here for kids to pick and choose from. Scratch that-I think this is wonderful for all ages. I learned so much from this that I have never known. The illustrations are stunning, as expected. And the resources and further reading provided I received an eARC courtesy of Crown Books for Young Readers & NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book is a powerhouse. While some of the details might be more than what an average middle grade reader might be interested in learning, there is so much here for kids to pick and choose from. Scratch that-I think this is wonderful for all ages. I learned so much from this that I have never known. The illustrations are stunning, as expected. And the resources and further reading provided in the back matter only serve to enhance the knowledge. Simply wonderful. For libraries: Buy it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Tournas

    Rocco has produced a wildly engaging, comprehensive, and beautifully illustrated resource on NASA’s quest to send a human to the moon. Fully illustrated with pencil, watercolor and digital painting, the art is descriptive and visually appealing. From portraits to maps, diagrams and images of the moon, Rocco easily translates images and physics concepts to the untrained reader. Beginning with the Cold War space race and the 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, up to the Apollo 11 mission Rocco has produced a wildly engaging, comprehensive, and beautifully illustrated resource on NASA’s quest to send a human to the moon. Fully illustrated with pencil, watercolor and digital painting, the art is descriptive and visually appealing. From portraits to maps, diagrams and images of the moon, Rocco easily translates images and physics concepts to the untrained reader. Beginning with the Cold War space race and the 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, up to the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, every aspect of technology, physics, space vehicles, propulsion, lunar knowledge and spacesuits, including the personnel behind them, is covered. The layout of each page and page opening varies, with text, illustration, side bars and boxouts organizing and presenting facts. Many scientists are profiled, including many women I had never heard about, such as Dorothy Lee and Rita Rapp, as well as members of the Apollo workforce that were African Americans, such as Dorothy Vaughan and Charles Smoot. Non American scientists are also given mention. Author’s notes, sources, a bibliography, a list of acronyms, and an index add to the usefulness of the book for scholarly research.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    The best book I've read about the moon and the Apollo program and I've read a few. In the author's notes at the end of the book John Rocco said he wanted to create a book he would have devoured as a boy. He succeeded. Read this one yourself and marvel at the illustrations and then read it with a younger relative or friend. Perfect for any kid who loves space, mechanics, engineering, how-to do complicated things. Very inspiring.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tam I

    Read an ARC. Far more technical than I thought it would be. Great that there are suggested experiments mixed in. A bit of a slog to get through.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    **Received a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own** This book was pretty good. I learned a lot about what took to get to the moon. There was a lot of technical/science stuff I didn’t quite understand (there’s a reason I didn’t go for a science major in college), but the information was all interesting. I liked that we got information on some of the people who aren’t commonly talked about with the Apollo missions. Overall, I think that anyone who’s interested in space/the moon, would rea **Received a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own** This book was pretty good. I learned a lot about what took to get to the moon. There was a lot of technical/science stuff I didn’t quite understand (there’s a reason I didn’t go for a science major in college), but the information was all interesting. I liked that we got information on some of the people who aren’t commonly talked about with the Apollo missions. Overall, I think that anyone who’s interested in space/the moon, would really enjoy this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizasdavis

    This gorgeous book tells the story of the people, the engineering and technology behind how we got to the moon. The illustrations perfectly engage readers and show the story in beautiful detail. I bought one copy for my middle-school aged nephew and another for my husband and I know they will both love their Christmas presents! Great for all ages, this is a book that will absolutely grow with readers and be enjoyed over and over in new ways.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This one is a 4.5 for me, and I was simply stunned by the detail and precision of the text and the illustrations, created painstakingly with pencil, watercolor, and digitally. While some young readers might need to sip the book over several settings, many will gobble it up, including some adults of a certain age like me. I can recall being awakened by my parents back in the summer of 1969 to sleepily watch the grainy images sent from the Moon on our black and white television set and marveling a This one is a 4.5 for me, and I was simply stunned by the detail and precision of the text and the illustrations, created painstakingly with pencil, watercolor, and digitally. While some young readers might need to sip the book over several settings, many will gobble it up, including some adults of a certain age like me. I can recall being awakened by my parents back in the summer of 1969 to sleepily watch the grainy images sent from the Moon on our black and white television set and marveling at this feat. I remember walking outside to see if I could detect those astronauts' presence on the Moon. Thus, I read the book with a feeling of nostalgia but also wonder and admiration at the efforts of more than 400,000 individuals who made that landing possible. Author/Illustrator John Rocco relies on present tense verbs to tell this story, giving it a sense of immediacy and urgency while also highlighting the contributions of various individuals along the way. Not only does he explain how rockets work, but he also discusses the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union and various successes and failures along the way. One of the most appealing features involves the problems encountered as teams worked on this project; those problems are solved in various ways, making for fascinating reading. Information about astronaut training and the equipment needed to survive in space has also been provided, and the complicated science and mathematics have been simplified for a lay audience. I lost count of the number of fascinating diagrams that were included, but I spent quite a lot of time examining them and thinking of the care that went into designing and sewing parachutes and spacesuits and the building of each part of that craft. While Rocco is careful to include snippets about the contributions women made to the space race, there is little mention of those who were almost astronauts other the Woman in Space Program. Perhaps it would detract from his focus on the Apollo 11 story, but it's an important point to cover. Nevertheless, this well-written and engaging book represents much research, and just might rekindle interest in space exploration. This is the kind of book that someone wants to save and pass down to the next generation because yes, much of this information can be found online, but not in such a well-designed format and with such enthusiastic attention to detail. What a treat it was to read this one!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Incredible. Fantastic coverage of all the major components of the program that eventually landed humans on the moon. The depth of information was perfect for such a comprehensive look at the Apollo Program. I'm sure many readers will be curious to learn more information about some of the things covered in this book and do some extra work outside of this book to learn more. For me, this happened with the guidance gyroscope. This is not a weakness of the book but a strength. It isn't meant to take Incredible. Fantastic coverage of all the major components of the program that eventually landed humans on the moon. The depth of information was perfect for such a comprehensive look at the Apollo Program. I'm sure many readers will be curious to learn more information about some of the things covered in this book and do some extra work outside of this book to learn more. For me, this happened with the guidance gyroscope. This is not a weakness of the book but a strength. It isn't meant to take readers on a deep dive into any of the topics but to give enough information to capture the key people and scientific advances in order to fit the full story into a book of manageable size. Considering Rocco's previous works, this next bit can almost go without saying... The illustrations are amazing. They always add to the reader's understanding. I really like the choice to use illustrations rather than existing (or new) photographs because those images are mostly already popular and familiar to people. These illustrations capture people, objects, and concepts in new ways. Any reader of any age who already has an interest in the Apollo Program will probably love this book but I think it could spark a real sense of wonder about space, engineering, teamwork, humanity, civics, cooperation, innovation, and grit.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Yay -- a space book! Rocco's approach is a love song to science and engineering -- he breaks the story into projects (rockets, spaceship, etc) and discusses how and where it was built, pausing to identify PROBLEMS and SOLUTIONs to model how engineers react to obstacles. Boxes pull out individuals to describe their contributions and diagrams illustrate how many devices work. There are also easy experiments to do at home to grasp many of the principles involved. He works hard to find a variety of Yay -- a space book! Rocco's approach is a love song to science and engineering -- he breaks the story into projects (rockets, spaceship, etc) and discusses how and where it was built, pausing to identify PROBLEMS and SOLUTIONs to model how engineers react to obstacles. Boxes pull out individuals to describe their contributions and diagrams illustrate how many devices work. There are also easy experiments to do at home to grasp many of the principles involved. He works hard to find a variety of people to celebrate while acknowledging that NASA was set up to boost white men through special treatment. Back matter has sources of information, books, websites, museums, interviews, as well as books for further reading and a handy list of NASA acronyms.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    So much detail went into this book from the small biographies inserted every few pages to the work to understand elements like jet propulsion but also how an astronaut goes poop in space. The focus includes the building of the space program from proclamations from president's to the "race" with Russia. The watercolor-like drawings compliment the details and bring the larger-than-normal size of the book right out of the page. I got bogged down in trying to understand the details because I don't h So much detail went into this book from the small biographies inserted every few pages to the work to understand elements like jet propulsion but also how an astronaut goes poop in space. The focus includes the building of the space program from proclamations from president's to the "race" with Russia. The watercolor-like drawings compliment the details and bring the larger-than-normal size of the book right out of the page. I got bogged down in trying to understand the details because I don't have a brain for it, but the attempt was noted! For someone who loves space, this is a treasure and just one more awesome book to hold in their hands and dream of going to space.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Love the format of Parts 3-5 labeling problems that arose while building launch vehicles, spacecraft, and just staying alive in space as well as the solutions that fixed each problem. In fact in Rocco's "A Note About Research" section at the back of the book, the author/illustrator states that he always felt that the story of The Apollo Mission would be a "perfect narrative for demonstrating science and problem-solving to young minds." Rocco illustrated EVERYTHING in this book and it's phenomena Love the format of Parts 3-5 labeling problems that arose while building launch vehicles, spacecraft, and just staying alive in space as well as the solutions that fixed each problem. In fact in Rocco's "A Note About Research" section at the back of the book, the author/illustrator states that he always felt that the story of The Apollo Mission would be a "perfect narrative for demonstrating science and problem-solving to young minds." Rocco illustrated EVERYTHING in this book and it's phenomenal in that sense too,.,

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    The definitive resource of how the US made it to the moon. I don't think that they left anything out of this stunning book. Too involved for my elementary school.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie Kellum

    *I read a digital ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ashleu

    Absolutely stunning. For adults and younger alike.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Li Sung

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. =p

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  23. 4 out of 5

    E Z W

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katy Punch

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Teut

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  28. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zelgtlfm

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

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