Friday, March 19, 2010

Planet Trip (1960)

Planet Trip is all about how we will get beyond the Moon and to the other planets. The first stop will be Mars.

Nephew, William and Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Buehr, Walter. Planet Trip. New York: GP Putnam's Sons. (72 p.) 23 cm.

But before you can get to Mars you need to build and prepare your craft. The authors suggested that to combat the problems of weightlessness, you will rotate the ship while it traveled. The inner ship would remain weightless while the outer ring revolved.

From my experience with these books this one is one of the earlier if not the earliest non-fiction children's book focusing solely on a manned trip to Mars. There were other books about Mars but this one lays out the mission in detail.

The landing is a combination of retrorocket and parachute. Mars looks like a mud-cracked desert (with plants in the cracks!) I have been told this mud-cracked appearance is a leftover from the Destination Moon movie where they put in cracks to give the moon set some depth and dimension. So the astronauts immediately go to collect samples.

Since this is just a sample run they quickly return to their ship for a return to the orbiting Mothership.

When we have finished conquering Mars, then it will be on to Venus where the authors admit we know very little about it (except of course they have great calamari!)

And what is beyond the inner planets? Of course it is onwards to the outer planets and the stars next week in the fourth book of the quartet: Beyond Mars.


  1. " is one of the earlier if not the earliest non-fiction children's book focusing solely on a manned trip to Mars." Well, there is Mars and Beyond: A Tomorrowland Adventure from a year earlier. Although the TV show on which it was based targeted the ley (pun intended) public, the book was pretty clearly for children; and aside from a little background on the Red Planet in fact and fiction, it was all about the mission. (Also, this was probably my favorite space book as a kid ... until I discovered Cole's Beyond Tomorrow.)

    -- Michael S.

  2. OK you have me there. In my defense, Mars and Beyond was an adaptation of a movie. It was written by Willy Ley and was a description of the Von Braun plan. My thought was this was the first book written from scratch to describe a Mars mission.

  3. Okay, I'll buy that! Though somehow I suspect there's one even earlier than 1959/1960 lurking out there somewhere.

    Regarding Mars and Beyond: "Plant eating itself" -- one of my all-time favorite captions/illustrations! My younger self thought, Whoa, freaky!

    -- Michael S.