Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon by Suzanne Slade & illus. by Thomas Gonzalez

This may not be common knowledge friends, but I am actually a huge space nerd. I love following the goings on of NASA, and the wonder of space exploration has never lessened for me. I used to be a producer for local TV news, and one of my greatest pleasures at that job was whenever I got to produce coverage of a Space Shuttle lift-off. I got to watch the raw feed from NASA, and there was just something so spectacular about watching the camera attached to the shuttle itself, and seeing the earth become smaller and smaller, and then that dark horizon as the curve of the planet became clear. Ah, I still get emotional thinking about it!

So you can image how excited I was to receive one of the newest books from Peachtree Publishers, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon by Suzanne Slade & illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. This is a beautiful book feature verse retellings of NASA’s earliest missions to the moon, and accompanied by truly gorgeous pieces of artwork.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and while the space program was something new and dazzling in the 20th century, today’s kids don’t know a world without one. Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon really showcases the ingenuity, creativity, and sacrifice that went into making the U.S. space program what it is — and in a way that is both approachable for young readers, but also honest in all the heartbreaking realities that happened along the way to that first moon landing.

That said, don’t let the illustrated nature of this book fool you. The recommended age for this book is 10+, and while I think some younger kids could also enjoy it, it’s definitely written with older kids in mind. That is to say, this isn’t a bedtime picture book — but rather a beautifully written and illustrated introduction to the moon missions that defined NASA’s earliest years.

This book will find a home equally in classrooms and at home, as it combines art and poetry with history and science. The result is a book that’s a truly stunning tribute to a significant moment in American history.

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon is in stores now. Here is the official synopsis:

Free verse and illustrations tell the true story of the American effort to land the first man on the Moon.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would try to land a man on the Moon within ten years. During the two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-nine days that followed his speech, eighteen astronauts climbed into spaceships; three of them died before even leaving the ground. Eight rockets soared into space. And four hundred thousand people–engineers, technicians, scientists, mathematicians, and machinists–joined Project Apollo in hopes of making the dream a reality.


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