Racing the Moon

Racing the Moon

5.0 2
by Alan Armstrong, Tim Jessell
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

An adventurous new work from Newbery Honor-Winning author, Alan Armstrong.

In the spring of 1947, outer space was an unexplored realm. But eleven year-old Alexis (Alex) Heart and her impulsive brother, Chuck, believe that the stars are within reach. In the midst of building their own rocket, Alex befriends Captain Ebbs, and an army scientist who is working to

Overview

An adventurous new work from Newbery Honor-Winning author, Alan Armstrong.

In the spring of 1947, outer space was an unexplored realm. But eleven year-old Alexis (Alex) Heart and her impulsive brother, Chuck, believe that the stars are within reach. In the midst of building their own rocket, Alex befriends Captain Ebbs, and an army scientist who is working to create food for future space travelers, and who is also a descendent of Captain John Smith. Alex soon introduces Chuck to her new friend, and the trio's shared interest in space travel sets off a series of adventures that the three will never forget. From meeting pioneering German rocket scientist Dr. Wenher von Braun, and a thrilling sailing trip down the Potomac to an island on the Chesapeake where a top secret rocket launch is about to take place, Alex and Chuck are about to have their lives forever changed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1947, 11-year-old Alexis and her unpredictable 17-year-old brother, Chuck, have a big dream: to go to Mars. Self-described “student of space,” they’ve built a “moon station” tree house, researched radar, and are planning to build their own rocket using real gunpowder. When they meet Captain Ebbs, a (real-life) army scientist who develops food for pilots, she, unlike other adults, takes them seriously and encourages them to plan their scientific career. At Ebbs’s invitation, the siblings join the scientist on a sailing trip down the Potomac River to watch a secret rocket launch, following in the footsteps of Ebbs’s distant relative Capt. John Smith. Middle-grade–friendly versions of Smith’s journals are woven throughout the latter half of the book, revealing the similarities of their adventures. Newbery Honor author Armstrong (Whittington) works a good deal of scientific and historical information into his story without affecting its pace, energy, or style. It’s a lively historical adventure with ready appeal to space enthusiasts and those with an appetite for adventure. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (June)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2012:
Inspired by the real Joan Cotton Ebbs, this chronicle of sibling aeronautical aspiration and misadventure provides a peek at the post-World War II U.S. space program. High-flying adventure grounded in reality.

Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2012:
Newbery Honor author Armstrong (Whittington) works a good deal of scientific and historical information into his story without affecting its pace, energy, or style. A lively historical adventure with ready appeal to space enthusiasts and those with an appetite for adventure.

Booklist, June 1, 2012:
Armstrong (with the help of Jessell’s spot art) captures the essence of youthful pluck, and Chuck’s determination to learn at all costs is something that readers can admire.

Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
In 1947, it's difficult to imagine a man landing on the moon. In this post-World War II world, Alexis (Alex) Hart and her brother, Charles, dream about exploring space as future astronauts. They spend evenings watching the night sky, and even read parts of Captain John Smith's diary of the New World to find out what it feels like to explore new horizons of the imagination. Alex meets Captain Ebbs, a scientist descended from John Smith. Together, the three imagine a futuristic world in which people land on the moon, and in which women are able to step outside the conventional gender roles. To Alex's delight, she has the opportunity to meet a top German rocket scientist named Wernher von Braun, and at the end of the story Alex sails through the Chesapeake Bay, ending up in a world of rocket scientists and at the cusp of technology. Young readers will enjoy this time traveling adventure, which gives them a glimpse into Post World War II life just twenty years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
Obsessed with rocket-building and outer space, two siblings living in Silver Springs, Md., in 1947 find the perfect ally right next door. Twelve-year-old Alex hangs out with her reckless 17-year-old brother Chuck, who's always getting them in trouble. Fascinated with radios, radar and rockets, Chuck "can make anything," but was kicked out of tech school because he "mixes things up when he reads." Alex's mother urges her to "act more ladylike," dress more carefully and pay more attention to schoolwork, but tomboy Alex wants to be another Amelia Earhart. Meeting her new neighbor, Captain Ebbs, Alex finds a mentor who develops space food for the army, sails her own boat and is a descendant of Captain John Smith. Beneath their impulsive behavior, Ebbs recognizes that Alex and Chuck share her passion for aviation and space. She arranges for Alex to meet pioneer rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, organizes a sailing trip to a Chesapeake Bay island near a rocket launch and provides needed direction for the risk-taking duo. Inspired by the real Joan Cotton Ebbs, this chronicle of sibling aeronautical aspiration and misadventure provides a peek at the post–World War II U.S. space program. Realistic pencil-sketch illustrations capture key events. High-flying adventure grounded in reality. (suggestions for further reading) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375958892
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
06/26/2012
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

1

The New Neighbor

Early Sunday morning, Alex headed up the hill. The weight she was carrying was heavy on her shoulder, but she was unaware of it. “Hi, Amelia,” she called to a blue dragonfly darting by. There were grass flowers in the warm breeze, a sweet scent that was almost dizzying. Then the sharp smell of fresh asphalt from the new road hit her with the thrill of a slap.

She stopped in front of one of the new houses. The ground around it was raw red clay. A large woman was on her knees, planting a bush. Her back was to the road.

“Hi!” the girl called as her dog’s tail began waving in expectation.

No response.

She cleared her throat to get the woman’s attention.

Nothing.

Finally Alex hollered, “Lady! Would you like to buy some plants?”

The dog barked, thinking it was some sort of game.

“Huh? What?” the woman called out, almost falling over as she jerked around, her trowel flying.

“Sorry,” Alex muttered, starting to turn away. “I’m selling plants.”

“Oh!” the woman exclaimed, her face clearing a little. “Well, hold on,” she called in a friendlier voice as she stood up slowly like you’d fold out a pocketknife.

The woman was tall and square-­shouldered, in jeans and a dark red shirt. She had dark curly hair and strong-­looking hands. Her face was long. She looked like she’d been out in the sun a lot.

Alex was an eleven-­year-­old in a not-­too-­clean T-­shirt and dirt-­stained jeans. She’d just cut her hair herself for summer. The plants she was selling were in two baskets hung on the notched broomstick she carried across a shoulder like a coolie. The large brown dog wagged happily beside her.

The woman’s face softened as she studied Alex. “Let’s see what you’ve got. I like plants, and I sure do need something around here.”

Alex figured the woman felt bad about getting angry. She pointed to her left basket. “These are azaleas, reds and whites,” she said in a professional voice. “They’re a dime each. In this other basket there’s hollyhocks and foxgloves. They’re two for a nickel. The foxgloves’ official name is digitalis. You get heart medicine from the leaves.”

The woman looked closely, then nodded. “Right! I’ll take ’em all if you’ll show me where they should go.”

“Sure,” said the girl as she lifted off her carrying pole and started emptying the baskets, delighted to have made such a big sale.

“First tell me your name,” the woman said, wiping her big hands on her jeans. “Tell me about yourself and how you got into the plants business. Tell me inside. I haven’t got my money on me. I’ve got milk, and I can give you a bomber bar I invented for the high-­altitude pilots.”

“A bomber bar? What’s that?”

“Come on in; I’ll show you.”

Alex hesitated. She’d been warned about going alone into a stranger’s house, but there was something intriguing about this woman. Alex imagined herself a spy, read all the spy stories in the magazines, figured she was pretty good at telling who was dangerous. She decided to risk it.

“Can Jeep come in too?” she asked. “He won’t do anything.”

She didn’t say so, but Jeep was her protection. If she said “Sic!” he’d attack.

The woman understood. “OK.”

“Got something for him?” Alex asked.

“I reckon,” the woman said, smiling and sticking out her hand. “I’m Captain Ebbs. Call me Ebbs.” She had a nice smile.

Alex rubbed her hand clean and shook Ebbs’s. It was rough and twice as big as hers. Ebbs didn’t paint her nails like Alex’s mother did.

“I’m Alexis Hart,” she said. “I live down the hill, last house above the creek. You can call me Alex.”

Ebbs’s house was a small white clapboard box like the others in the development, but inside it looked strange. The floors were bare and it was almost empty, except tacked to the walls were photographs of fighter planes, bombers, different-­sized rockets, and a big balloon with a gondola underneath. In one corner there was a dark painting.

Alex stared at the photographs, the rockets especially. They were bigger, much bigger, than the ones in her book. Ebbs was in one picture standing with some officers and a tall man in a suit. She wore a military uniform with a narrow slant hat.

Alex’s house was filled with rugs, stuffed chairs, and little tables with photographs of old people in polished silver frames.

“You waiting for the rest of your stuff?” she asked as Ebbs pointed her to one of the two kitchen chairs and plunked down a glass of milk and a plate with a grainy-­looking brown bar on it.

Ebbs shook her head. “Nope, this is it,” she said, motioning around. “I move a lot because of my work, so I can’t keep much, and anyway, things slow you down. Do you bicycle?”

“Sure,” said Alex, taking a tentative bite of the bar, then putting it down. It tasted bitter.

Ebbs noticed but kept talking. “I sail a small boat. You don’t want anything extra on a sailboat either. It took me a while, but now I live like I’m sailing, everything essential and shipshape. Do you like to sail?”

“Never done it.”

“If you want, I’ll teach you.”

“Thanks,” said Alex. Then she asked in a polite voice, “Is there a Mr. Ebbs?”

Ebbs’s eyebrows went up a little. “My older brothers,” she said. “But they don’t live here. It’s just me,” she added quietly. “No family.”

“Oh.”

The dog whined.

“Right, I forgot!” Ebbs said. “Does he like cheese? I’ve got some old cheddar I can give him, but it’s pretty hard.”

“He’ll eat anything!”

As Ebbs sat down with a yellow chunk in her hand, the dog waved his big forward-­curling tail. He was short-­haired but his tail was bushy. He came up to Ebbs slowly, stiff-­legged and formal, sniffed, then took the cheese delicately and settled down to gnaw.

“Very dignified,” Ebbs said. “What’s his name, again?”

“Jeep. He’s my brother’s dog, but he sticks with me.” Alex paused, then added, “Folks usually want to know why he’s called that.”

Ebbs waited for her to say, but she didn’t. Alex remembered her mother warning her about “going on,” talking too much.

“So tell me,” Ebbs demanded.

Alex relaxed. She liked to talk, and since Ebbs had bought her out, she didn’t have to hurry on.

“Chuck named him that because he’s the same color as his war surplus jeep,” she began. “The garbageman found him hurt by the road and left him with us. He said he was a Chesapeake Bay retriever, but he hates water and he doesn’t look like the ones in the book, so Mother says he’s a mutt. He sleeps on my bed even though he’s not supposed to. Mother says he makes my room smell like a caveman’s cave because of what he rolls in. He rolls in everything!” She didn’t tell how she pulled him close at night and buried her head in his chest, breathing in his damp warm dog scent.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2012:
Inspired by the real Joan Cotton Ebbs, this chronicle of sibling aeronautical aspiration and misadventure provides a peek at the post-World War II U.S. space program. High-flying adventure grounded in reality.

Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2012:
Newbery Honor author Armstrong (Whittington) works a good deal of scientific and historical information into his story without affecting its pace, energy, or style. A lively historical adventure with ready appeal to space enthusiasts and those with an appetite for adventure.

Booklist, June 1, 2012:
Armstrong (with the help of Jessell’s spot art) captures the essence of youthful pluck, and Chuck’s determination to learn at all costs is something that readers can admire.

Meet the Author

ALAN ARMSTRONG liked to read books such as Captains Courageous, Kim, and Treasure Island. As an adult he has worked as a lawyer, a traveling bookseller, and an author of books about children who are put to the test. Moon Girl is his fourth book for children. His first, Whittington, was awarded a Newberry Honor in 2006. He live in Massachusetts with his wife, Martha, a painter.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Racing the Moon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RiC. CiibmhlwXfjm Zc
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His is a must read sensation.