Fifty years ago when I was a child, my family had very little spare cash, but once a year my parents, my nine years older than me big sister and I would cram into a red Mini and make our way to Minehead where we would have a free week’s holiday with Aunt Mary and Uncle Colin who owned a guest house.
One of my enduring memories is the trip we made there in 1969. I can remember so vividly, pressing my nose to a television shop window to watch a news bulletin of the first ever moon landings. Grainy, flickering and fairly indistinct, those images have stayed with me for the last five decades.
Consequently, I was delighted when a surprise copy of the children’s book The Spacesuit by Alison Donald and illustrated by Ariel Landy arrived from Maverick Books in return for an honest review. I’d like to extend my thanks to Val for sending it to me.
The Spacesuit is published by Maverick in hardback and paperback and is available for purchase here.
There is a competition to make the spacesuit for the first moon landing! Ellie, an ordinary woman, is asked to lead a team of other talented seamstresses. No one believes they can win, but they are determined to try.
Based on the incredible true story behind the spacesuit that astronauts wore on the first moon walk and the team of women who sewed it together.
My Review of The Spacesuit
How a competition led to the spacesuits used in the 1969 moon landings.
What a wonderful, timely book The Spacesuit is. It might be designed for children but it brought back so many memories from 50 years ago for me and introduced me to a whole new aspect of the moon landings I’d never considered before. Just who made those first spacesuits? Indeed, entertainment and nostalgia aside, there’s a vitally important message here. We know so much about the first man on the moon, but what about the women behind that achievement? Based on real people, in The Spacesuit we discover Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Foraker who was instrumental in creating the spacesuits used. The Spacesuit gives credence and status to all in a message so important to children. Similarly, I thoroughly appreciated the inclusion of those of different ethnicities in Ariel Landy’s colourful and enhancing illustrations.
There’s so much to discover in The Spacesuit as facts and figures adorn every part of the book, from the inside covers, and across the title pages to throughout the story so whilst it’s possible simply to read the book as an entertainment, with jeopardy making it exciting, so much can be learnt too. I had no idea that 21 layers were used in those first spacesuits, for example.
Facts aside, there are wonderful messages about perseverance, team work, doing your best and being proud of your achievements. Ellie’s childhood hobby becomes a career and ultimately a world changing skill so that children can see that their aspirations can be fulfilled regardless of their background. What could be better than that?
The Spacesuit offers something different every time it’s read. It has the potential for so many uses with children that I can see it forming the basis of home and school projects. How about researching those constellation patterns perhaps or playing with onomatopoeic language in the whir of the machines and where exactly is Texas on the map? There really is a wealth of material (forgive the pun) to be enjoyed here.
Finally, I love the fact that the book brings us right up to date with a code to scan for more information. The Spacesuit is a smashing book for children – of all ages!
About Alison Donald
Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Alison now lives in Farnham with her British husband and 3 young children. She works as a Paediatric Occupational Therapist and has over 10 years of experience helping children with special needs reach their potential.
Alison has been writing stories since she was a child. After years of scribbling story ideas on envelopes and scrap paper, Alison finally joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI-BI) in 2014 and with their support, her writing took off.
About Ariel Landy
Ariel Landy is an illustrator and educator from New York City. Ariel began writing and illustrating stories as soon as she could hold a pencil and she never stopped. She currently lives in Harlem with her boyfriend and their dog, Sid.