Children's LiteratureThis engaging book has an interesting spinit is cleverly organized to reveal the history of space flight and NASA's goal to reach the moon through the lens of space mission patches. Beginning in the early days of the space program, the astronauts chose symbols to represent the goals of their particular missions, and these designs were sewn onto patches and worn on team members' spacesuits. Although the astronauts still have a say, the patches have evolved over the last thirty years to a sophisticated level involving designers, graphic artists and literary symbols. The author suggests that the patches are symbols that help to create team spirit and trust between the partners on a mission. Each chapter focuses on a particular program or mission. Rather than just listing a timeline of the space missions, the author explains each mission's purpose. The mission patch for the Apollo 11 flight, which landed Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. on the moon is particularly striking. There is a gold border around a field of black, and a small planet earth is sewn onto this, with the words "Apollo 11" in gold. Above a blue lunar surface, there is a bald eagle, representing America, about to land, with its wings spread and an olive branch, the universal symbol for peace, held in its talons. The daring, intellectual prowess and yearning human imagination revealed in these patches are very moving. This is a well-written, highly educational book, and would be an excellent and appealing addition to any school library. 2001, The Millbrook Press, $24.90. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Nancy Partridge
School Library JournalGr 4-6-Vogt expands a narrow topic with a capsule history of our space program, from Mercury flights to the International Space Station. Beginning with Gemini 5's wry "8 Days or Bust" emblem, every space mission has had a unique patch (Mercury and earlier Gemini missions received theirs retrospectively) designed by the crews themselves within relatively broad parameters. Rather than provide a comprehensive tally, the author selected 20 "milestone" missions, recounting the course of each as well as illustrating and describing its insignia and NASA's own emblems. Available in several forms, from mass-produced decals to cloth patches worn by astronauts in space, these items are natural collectibles, selling anywhere from a few cents to thousands of dollars. Young space enthusiasts will welcome the bright color illustrations, the general advice about setting up a collection, and generous helpings of background facts that are well chosen to enhance the meaning and value of these historical mementos. Web addresses of commercial dealers and suggestions for readers who might wish to design their own personal patches bring up the rear. Both to fill a subject gap and as a supplementary history, this makes a desirable addition to most collections.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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