Children's Literature - Gisela JerniganFrom young cosmonaut, Yury Gagarins' remark, "Could one dream of anything greater?" as he prepared to become the first man in space, to the excitement of US astronaut, Edward White, who left the space-craft while in flight, and finally to the tragic accidents of 1967, this volume in the "World Explorers" series traces the history of space exploration from Sputnik in 1957 to April 1967. The straightforward text traces both Russian and US challenges and achievements and includes a forward by Michael Collins. Black and white and some color photos, plus an index, bibliography and chronology are included.
School Library JournalGr 5-7-- Aside from the sexist and inaccurate title, the U. S. and the Soviet space programs get equal time in this thoughtful, well-organized survey. Kennedy begins his narrative with a quick history of rocket science, and then describes how Sputnik 1, that `` most political of celestial objects,'' ignited the space race, engendering the rival Mercury/Gemini, Vostok/Voskhod projects. He sprinkles his account with anecdotes and tales of disaster or near-disaster (the crew of Voskhod 2 landed in a desolate area, spent the night huddled in their capsule for fear of wolves, and eventually skied their way to safety), covering the Soviet side of the story in unusual detail, and concluding with the Apollo 1 fire and the crash of Soyuz I in 1967. Large black-and-white photos appear with frequency and are well chosen and placed, although they sometimes give the pages a gray lgray look that the brief full-color section doesn't relieve, and the simple, declarative captions are at odds with the main text's analytical thrust. This expanded view of an era that will seem to be ancient history for many students makes first-rate enrichment material.-- John Peters, New York Public Library
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