Forty years ago today Apollo 11 lifted off for the Moon, and I couldn't think of a better tribute than to celebrate a book that told me the biggest lie of my life.
You Will Go to the Moon was written by Mae and Ira Freeman and illustrated by Robert Patterson, and I read it a bajillion times when I was a kid. Published in 1959, this Random House Beginner Book soaked through my skin, rearranged my DNA, and prepared me to be a citizen of the stars instead of the little South Dakota neighborhood from which I watched Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins make history. My original copy is long gone, but I found one in a used book store a few years ago and happily gave it a place of honor on my shelf of much more serious and scholarly tomes on astronomy and space exploration. It taught me more than pretty much all the rest together, even though almost nothing in it is right.
The influence of Wernher Von Braun's vision of spaceflight is strong and obvious--surprisingly so for as late as 1959, when the real manned space program had gotten underway. The fat winged rocket above and the classic doughnut-shaped space station below are pure Von Braunian goodness, so iconic of their time it's easy to forget they were once serious suggestions for actual space vehicles.
t-shirt (behind the coffee drinkers below, unfortunately obscured by a blotch of childhood graffiti). I wonder what that "help wanted" ad would look like.
What terrific art! I've seen a later edition of You Will Go to the Moon illustrated more realistically, informed by Apollo hardware and actual lunar landings. I don't think it's nearly as good. If I can't blast off to a space station with a soda fountain and race Moon cars through craters like dune buggies, well, I hardly see the point in going.