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The Moon Over Star

The Moon Over Star

4.0 2
by Dianna Hutts Aston

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In July 1969, the world witnessed an awe-inspiring historical achievement when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. For the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer.



In July 1969, the world witnessed an awe-inspiring historical achievement when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. For the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer.

Caldecott Honor–winning painter Jerry Pinkney and the poetic Dianna Hutts Aston create a moving tribute to the historic Apollo 11 Mission, just in time to commemorate its upcoming fortieth anniversary.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The 1969 moon landing is the locus for this inspired collaboration. Aston (An Egg Is Quiet) subtly inserts facts about the Apollo 11 mission into a broader, poetic story about the excitement it generates in an eight-year-old's community. Mae, the narrator, begins the day in church with her grandfather, where everyone prays for the astronauts. Later, as she and her cousins build a play spaceship, she thinks more about her grandfather, a hardworking farmer who considers the space program a waste of money. By the end of the evening, the whole family has seen Neil Armstrong on the moon, and Mae's quietly confided dream of going to the moon someday has reminded Gramps of the wonder in his own childhood (afterward, "A sigh in Gramps's voice/ Made my heart squeeze"). In some of his finest watercolors to date, Pinkney (The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll) supplies both his characteristically affectionate, realistic portrayals of African-American families and lyrical views of the moon, giving visual form to what Aston evokes: awe. Ages 6-8. (Oct.)

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[A] satisfying tribute to this milestone in human history and its power to inspire others.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Aston takes us back to the summer of 1969, to share the excitement and wonder of eight-year-old Mae as she reports on the anticipated landing of the astronauts on the moon. Although her grandfather feels it is a waste of money, she and her cousins are hoping for success. They assemble a "spaceship" to imagine the blast-off. Everyone gathers around the TV to hear that, "The Eagle has landed." Mae asks her grandfather to watch the moon walk with her. As she does, she thinks about the hard farmer's life he has had, perhaps along with the extra burden of being an African American. Watching the live TV picture from the moon thrills all the family, "And maybe even President Kennedy too…" Later her grandpa encourages Mae to "Keep on dreaming." On the front of the cover we meet a contemplative Mae under a half-circle moon. On the back, we see more of Pinkney's deft naturalism in a view of the moon approached by the space ship, displaying his esthetic sensitivity as he designs his scenes to provoke our sense of wonder, along with the emotions involved in the vicarious space adventure. His family portraits tell the tale of the millions who watched the event. Particularly potent is the textless double page watercolor image of the blasting off with the mingling of yellowish cloudy vapors against the deep blue of the distant sea. The human quality of his graphite, ink, and watercolor illustrations is more compelling than any photograph. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

A girl remembers the summer of 1969 and the first moon landing in this lushly illustrated, 40th-anniversary tribute. From her small town of Star, Mae and her family pray for the astronauts, she and her cousins build a homemade "rocket ship," and they all watch the historic moment on television. Pinkney's remarkable graphite, ink, and watercolor paintings evoke both the vastness of space and the intimacy of 1960s family life. Writing in the voice of a nine-year-old African-American girl, Aston is lyrical and sometimes evocative, though some of her narrative choices are overworked. The visual format of the free verses, with every line beginning with a capital letter, is distracting and interferes with the text's natural rhythms. The choice of the name Mae for the character who aspires to be an astronaut may be homage paid to Mae Jemison, and even the name of the fictional town seems to exist just for its metaphorical value. That said, this book offers children a close-up view of an experience that seems quaint today, but that was life-changing in 1969.-Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC

Kirkus Reviews
Twenty-three years before Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to travel into space, a young girl living in the small Southern town of Star anxiously awaits the first step of a man on the moon. In a child's voice but with lovely storytelling cadences, Aston tells the story of the excitement, anticipation and skepticism felt by one family on July 20, 1969. Young Mae and her family go about their normal routines-church, picnicking, play-but take time throughout the day to gather around the television to watch history being made. While Mae is excited, her Gramps, like many Americans, feels the space program is a waste of money but nevertheless encourages her granddaughter to dream. Pinkney's vibrant illustrations exquisitely complement the moving story. The double-page spreads of the the rocket traveling through space from Earth to Moon express the enormity of the moment, and the characters' emotions are palpable. While the family is African-American, there is no explicit connection to the historical Jemison, rendering this tale gorgeously universal. (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
6 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Dianna Hutts Aston is the author of Mama's Wild Child / Papa's Wild Child, When You Were Born (Candlewick), and An Egg is Quiet (Chronicle). She lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Jerry Pinkney is one of America's most admired children's book illustrators. He has won the Caldecott Medal and five Caldecott Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, five New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Awards, the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Society of Illustrators' Original Art Show Lifetime Achievement Award, and many other prizes and honors. Recently a member of the National Council of the Arts and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has also served on the U.S. Postal Service Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. Jerry Pinkney lives with his wife, author Gloria Jean Pinkney, in Westchester County, New York.

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The Moon over Star 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
NookNoire More than 1 year ago
Both historical and touching, this book gives a rich social context of the moon launch to a little black girl in 1969. It captures the world's excitement about the event as well as reasons for elder's skepticism. But it's a great book to share with children about how an event can inspire a dream in a child and how that dream can come true. Ostensibly, the book is about Mae Jemison as a child, who then went on to become an astronaut. Read it to my 3 and 1 year, but can't wait until they are older when the same book will take on a deeper meaning after learning social studies in school.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book appropriate for children.