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One Giant Leap

Last updated Thursday, March 24, 2011

Author: Robert Burleigh
Illustrator: Mike Wimmer
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0399238832
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2011

Synopsis: Book List

For young readers fascinated with the real history of space travel, this simple, clear, and attractively illustrated book is a great place to begin. Using two-page spreads that are half text, half image, the story of July 20, 1969, and the moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin is related in short sentences that tread the line between informational (details of the Eagle include “Its outer walls thinner than human skin”) and poetic (the moon’s surface is described as “like a battlefield from some ancient war”). The landing is tense, the frolicking on the moon amusing, but most welcome is the realistic portrayal of the exhaustion and trepidation that occur after the moon walk is finished. The feathery, impressionistic paintings alternate between hues of blue (the moon) and green (the cockpit) and utilize unusual high or low perspectives to accentuate the drama. The only thing missing is historical context, and Burleigh’s author’s note takes care of that quite nicely.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Vocabulary:
•  Orbit
•  Descend/descent
•  Gouged
•  Hovers
•  “Sea of Tranquility” – a crater on the moon
•  Gravity
•  Goose pimples / goose bumps

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How long is “eternity”?
•  Can you imagine a place with no life?
•  Why were Armstrong and Aldrin heroes?

Craft ideas:
•  Visit the Reading to Kids blog (http://readingtokids.blogspot.com) to see how to make a stellar rocket ship!
•  Draw what the surface of the moon might look like.
•  Draw what a spaceship might look like.
•  Draw what Earth would look like from the moon.

Special activities:
•  Walk like you are on the moon.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!