Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I love punch-out books about space flight and have a couple of them. Punch-out books are someplace between the world of toy and that of the book. This one is only 8 pages and really has no text.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Coggins, Jack. Let's Go on a Space Trip. New York: GP Putnam's Sons. (48 p.) 21 cm.
This book was a standard on the school library book shelves of the 1960s. Part of the "Let's go on a..." series which took children to different occupations. This let children imagine what it would be like to be an astronaut.
Jack Coggins was an important illustrator of children's books and did the illustrations for the first "real" children's book about space flight Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles, and Space Ships (1951).
This illustration of a firey re-entry of a capsule is especially vivid. It was books like these that created my love of space flight and my dreams of space.
You can see that the drawings were adapted from some of the very early Apollo designs. We were not always sure what the future would really look like but these books showed we were sure we would get there.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
December 1957: We have decided how the U.S. is going to catch up to the shock of Sputnik.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"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. )
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"...when man first stepped on the moon, many small children were either asleep or throughly bewildered. "
This is another of those visual treats that you can find in children's books. Erich Fuchs is a german artist who took the moon landing as an inspiration to create a book of abstract paintings about the Apollo 11 landing.
As the book jacket says,
"Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." When these astonishing words were first broadcast and later, on the evening of July 20, 1969, when man first stepped on the moon, many small children were either asleep or throughly bewildered. Now, in Journey to the Moon, a brilliant German painter has brought the strange wonder of the Apollo 11 mission within the reach and understanding of these younger children. Erich Fuchs, whose work has been compared with that of Paul Klee, captures each important event of the eight-day mission in space. In his beautiful paintings a child can relive again and again, the launching, the flight, the landing, and the return to Earth of the three astronauts. A brief, clear text explains the day-by-day progress of the mission
Since I was the stately age of 10 years old during the moon landing I was fascinated and consumed rather than "bewildered". But I do agree that trying to capture that moment in such strong paintings helps us remember how strange and wonderful it all seemed at the time.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Daily Mail Annual for 1952 was one of many british annuals for children that came out that year. The annual concept was a collection of short stories, factual articles, pictures, and sometimes games or comic strips. Image Jack and Jill magazine if it only came out annually. What is the star in this is "The Next Great Adventure" by Ralph A. Smith.
R.A. Smith was one of the great space artists who died far too young. He worked closely with the BIS (British Interplanetary Society) helping its members illustrate space flight concepts. He worked with Arthur C Clarke on a number of his early book and his illustrations are a treat.
Most of his work appeared in black and white so this story is one of the few times you got to see his color work
Evidently he did not paint on his own, but only on commission to paint a particular concept. This was an early plan for a manned space capsule
This painting shows the bug-like BIS lunar lander
While this one show the BIS concept for a space station.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Thisi s another of those treasures that rapidly slipped out of sight. A Whitman "Learn About book" it is filled with great illustrations about our future. The delta winged rocket on an Air Force rocket was the future at the time.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
The Science of Flight ....Present and future(1958)
This is an odd item, a reusable coloring book with minimal text. At the height of the space race there were lots of these items for kids. They usually presented a few minimal facts to make them educational enough for the parents to buy. A "Keep me busy" book (for real!)
Just a fun little item. Here are a couple more scans of the back and inside cover:
Check out the alien who finds Earth vehicles very "strange":
Friday, February 6, 2009
A hard book to find it covers that narrow time in the U.S. space program when monkeys and chimps were our astronauts. Since no one knew exactly what the launch and retrieval process would do to primates (like us), Miss Baker was a true American hero (and she didn't even get the ticker-tape parade).
The book was reprinted in Britain in 1961 with a slightly different cover:
Burt, Olive. Space Monkey. London : Darwen Finlayson (48 p.) 21 cm. Cloth, DJ.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Temple, William F. Illustrated by Billings, Henry. Prentice-Hall Book about Space Travel. New York: Prentice-Hall Inc. (142 p.) 22 cm. Cloth, DJ.
This is an unfinished story. Part of the fun of collecting is the stories you discover about books. People make fun of collectors because of the obsessiveness to have multiple copies of things or “all” the editions. The interesting story of this book for me is the one I may never know the answer to.
When I first started getting serious about children space books I was learning what was out there. I searched all sorts of book sites from various used books listings to rare book sites. ABE was one of the early places you could search through lists of books by various dealers. I would use keywords like “space” and “children” mixed with dates like 1952 or 1968 and see what titles came up. One ad said “Original book art by Henry Billings from science fiction author’s estate, The Prentice Hall Book About Space Travel”. I called the dealer and spoke to him and it was as he claimed. He was helping dispose of William Temple’s estate and he found a set of scratch board illustrations of a book Mr. Temple had authored.
I had seen the book recently so I knew I would like to have this and arranged payment. I also hunted down a copy of the book. I was pleased to find it was as promised, every illustration from the book. Here are the illustrations:
I was pretty happy because of the variety of space vehicles and history they covered. I had illustrations of Icarus, the From the Earth to the Moon gun-powered ship, the Bumper-Rocket, Space stations, moon landings, and flying saucers. But that turns out it was not the end of the story.
Then I learned of this book:
Temple, William. Illustrated by Quinn, Gerard. The True Book About Space-Travel. London : Frederick Mueller Ltd. (144 p.) 19 cm. Cloth, DJ.
Since they were both published in 1954, which one came first? The only way to answer the question was to look at this book next to mine and see what was going on.
As soon as I looked at the illustrations I realized that my book: The Prentice Hall Book About Space Travel had to be the reprint from the British edition. The reason being that the illustrations in my book were much cruder than those done by Gerard Quinn. Evidently the rights for the illustrations had not been negotiated (or something) so Henry Billings was asked to copy (as best he could) every illustration from the British edition so the book could be reprinted. I will probably never know why.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
"Slightly less scarce but equally interesting is the card-covered science fiction booklet illustrated by Ron Embleton entitled The World of Space, published by P.R. sometime during the 1950s. The cover and four internal pages are in colour while most of the other pages carry black and white spot illustrations. Running along the bottom edge of each page is a continuous strip, The Green Moon, recounting the adventures of Nick Ballard, and his assistants, Rock Murphy and Janice Carr. While not as difficult to find as The Space Patrol, The World of Space is still quite an elusive item..."
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Somehow the moon base is not as inspiring but it still make me want to go to the moon. This updating was also reprinted in Great Britain in 1973 under the title Going to the moon.