Moon Landings: Books

Blast off with some brilliant books as July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing! Review Panel member and librarian Carol Carter takes a look at some brand new astro-themed children's books to celebrate the occasion.


For more books about the topic of space, you can also visit these booklists:



1. Jasper: Space Dog

Hilary Robinson & Lewis James

Available here

For those just past the Early Readers stage, Jasper: Space Dog is a fun and easy to read first chapter book. The book is written in the form of letters from Jasper (and his human owner, Charlie) to Dr Isabella Starr, Rocket Scientist. The letters from Charlie and Jasper are silly and light; they ask questions such as ‘Is the moon made of cheese?’, ‘Do astronauts eat hotdogs?’, and ‘Did the astronauts see a man in the moon?’.


Dr Starr’s replies are fun too, but also provide interesting facts. Did you know that the landing module Eagle was originally going to be called Haystack? ‘Houston, the Haystack has landed’ doesn’t have quite the same ring! Or that the astronauts couldn’t afford life insurance, so they each signed hundreds of photos to be sold if they didn’t make it back to raise money for their families. Jasper: Space Dog provides young readers with all of these answers and more.


Publisher: Strauss House Productions

Publication date: 4th April 2019


Order Jasper: Space Dog here.



2. Field Trip to the Moon

Jeanne Willis & John Hare

Available here

Field Trip to the Moon is a stunning picture book exploring what happens when one child on a school trip to the moon accidentally gets left behind after the school space ship departs. Depicted in atmospheric shades of grey, with soothing rhyming text, we see the aliens creep up to investigate the lost child who is drawing a picture of Earth. For the moon aliens, the crayon colours open up a whole new world and lead to ‘the best day of our lives’.

Moving through pathos and wariness to friendship and joy, Field Trip to the Moon is accessible for the youngest children in school, but there is also much that could be explored with KS1 and LKS2, such as writing about the experience from the point of view of the child, describing a field trip to space or imagining suddenly discovering colour after a lifetime of grey.


Field Trip to the Moon is my ‘top pick’ for a space-themed picture book and would be great used in assembly or whole class settings.


Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 16th May 2019


Order Field Trip to the Moon here.



3. The Darkest Dark

Chris Hadfield, Kate Fillion & The Fan Brothers

Available here

The Darkest Dark tells the true story of how Chris Hadfield conquered his childhood fear of the dark after watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, thus paving the way for his own journey to become an astronaut. The foreword and afterword from Chris add excellent context which makes the story even more inspiring.


Children will be able to empathise with Chris’ fear of night-time monsters which he overcomes through his realisation of ‘the power and mystery and velvety black beauty of the dark’ in space. The expansive artwork on the pages conveying the awesome majesty of space contrasts beautifully with the earth-bound portraits of a warm and loving human family. The uplifting message of this book inspires the reader to dream big; as Chris says ‘Your dreams are always with you…Big dreams about the kind of person you want to be. Wonderful dreams about the life you will live. Dreams that actually can come true’.


Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 13th June 2019 (Moon Landing Special Edition)


Order The Darkest Dark here.




4. Astro Girl

Ken Wilson-Max

Available here

Astrid has loved space ever since she can remember and wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. Even when her dad gently reminds her of the challenges ahead (eating food out of a tube, getting used to near-zero gravity, sleeping on her own amongst the stars), she is confident – “I can do that!”


This is a story full of tenderness and adventure, with a lovely surprise ending when Astrid and Dad go to pick up Mum from the airbase – where has she been?


This gentle picture book with distinctive earthy illustrations is a lovely read-aloud for Reception/Year 1 with a wonderful inclusive message at its heart, supported by the mini fact-files about female and BAME astronauts at the end.



Publisher: Otter-Barry Books

Publication date: 6th June 2019


Order Astro Girl here.



5. How To be an Astronaut and Other Space Jobs

Dr Sheila Kanani & Sol Linero

Available here

How To be an Astronaut and Other Space Jobs is a very well laid out introduction to space exploration and the jobs associated with it. It begins with a short introduction to space and why it’s worth exploring before giving an in-depth look at what it’s like to be an astronaut, including such interesting questions as what kind of training you need to do, what it feels like to be weightless and what happens to your body when you return to earth. It also covers a wide range of behind-the-scenes roles I’d never considered before such as astrobiologists, space doctors and even space chefs!


The amount and detail of the text is perfectly judged for KS1/LKS2 – blocks of text are never more than a few sentences with key words highlighted in bold. Sol Linero deserves a special mention for the excellent clear and attractive illustrations which are as important as the words.


Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication date: 6th June 2019


Order How To be an Astronaut and Other Space Jobs here.


6. Suzy Orbit, Astronaut

Ruth Quayle & Jez Tuya

Available here

Space engineer, Suzy Orbit, has a TON of ideas - about how to build a new space pod, design a replacement spacesuit and programme an alien-translation phone for starters. Unfortunately, Captain Gizmo does not listen to a word she says and prefers to order everything online.


Luckily, when a real disaster strikes (a meteoroid storm is about to blast earth!), Captain Gizmo finally realises just how useful Suzy can be.


With vibrant colours, spaceships, aliens, crazy inventions and the kid-friendly ‘children triumph over grown-ups’ storyline, Suzy Orbit, Astronaut will be a sure-fire hit with the youngest space enthusiasts.


Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication date: 27th June 2019


Order Suzy Orbit Astronaut here.



7. Trailblazers: Neil Armstrong

Alex Woolf & Nina Jones

Available here

Trailblazers: Neil Armstrong (part of a new series from Stripes Publishing including Harriet Tubman and Jane Goodall with more to come) is an excellent summary of the inspiring lifetime and achievements of the first man on the moon.


Covering Neil’s obsession with flying from childhood model-building, through science fairs, his career as a fighter and then test pilot, until his eventual role as the most famous astronaut who ever lived, this is a whistle stop tour of amazing anecdotes set during a ground-breaking time in the history of space exploration.


Dispersed through the text are evocative illustrations and informative side bars on topics such as ‘The Apollo 1 Tragedy’, ‘Scouts in Space’ and ‘How a Jet Engine works’. However, what comes across most strongly throughout the book are Neil’s human qualities. Hard work, focus, courage, and humility shine through in every decision he makes, both on and off our planet, and that make this an inspiring book for anyone, whether they are a space fanatic or not.


Publisher: Stripes

Publication date: 11th July 2019


Order Trailblazers: Neil Armstrong here.



8. Where Once We Stood

Christopher Riley & Martin Impey

Available here

Where Once We Stood is a stunning book - large, weighty and dense with information, vocabulary, ideas and meaning. Capturing first-hand accounts from the 12 people who have stood on the moon, in their own words, each chapter covers a particular Apollo mission and begins with dates, crew logs and maps to set the scene.


The stories themselves are heart-stopping. From Neil Armstrong’s era-defining first step into the moon’s pristine dust, to Gene Cernan’s final step and wish that “we leave as we came…with peace and hope for all Mankind”, we experience in real time the anticipation, the elation and the fear of exploring the Moon’s awesome other-worldly environment.


The language throughout is a glorious blend of the poetic and the scientific, the prosaic and the profound. The illustrations by Martin Impey are breath-taking and alone make the book worth purchasing. Where Once We Stood rewards detailed and repeated study and would be an excellent key text around which to build a Space Scheme of Work for Year 5/6.


Publisher: Harbour Moon Publishing

Publication date: 1st July 2019


Order Where Once We Stood here.


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Thank you to the publishers for kindly sending us advanced review copies of these books and to Review Panel member Carol Carter for reviewing them.


These 'out of this world' books are available to purchase online here or from your local bookshop or library.


For more books about the topic of space, you can also visit these booklists:


Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, BooksForTopics earns from qualifying purchases.  Click here to learn more. 

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