Monday, February 23, 2009

The First Book of Space Travel (1953)

"Up with the rocket"

In 1953 space travel was science fiction to most Americans. This remarkable book appeared to show how it could be possible. Jeanne Bendick was an author and illustrator of children's books, mostly nonfiction. She started out as an illustrator for Jack and Jill magazine and was an author/illustrator of over 100 children's books.

She had a gift for using simple images to explain complicated concepts. I like her almost impressionistic, sketchy style and the use of the red and green to make the images jump.

Bendick herself said, "One part of the job I set for myself is to make those young readers see that everything is connected to everything-that science isn't something apart. It's a part of everyday life. It has been that way since the beginning. The things the earliest scientists learned were the building blocks for those who came after. Sometimes they accepted earlier ideas. Sometimes they questioned them and challenged them. I want to involve readers directly in the text so they will ask themselves questions and try to answer them. If they can't answer, that's not really important... Questions are more important than answers... If I were a fairy godmother, my gift to every child would be curiosity." (Gale Literary Databases. "Jeanne Bendick." Contemporary Authors. )

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