Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Men to the Moon (1960) (part 2)

I continue my exploration of this wonderful children's book. The only one written by Wernher von Braun.

Von Braun, Wernher. Illustrated by Freeman, Fred. First Men to the Moon. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. (96 p.) 24 cm. Cloth, DJ.

 Exploring the Moon looks like a very geological expedition. At the time the biggest question seemed to be what the Moon was made of, since it was our first big sample of extraterrestrial material.

Perhaps Fred Freeman had hoped to make many of the illustrations paintings. Unfortunately this one is the only full-color illustration.

Another nice illustration showing how a different space-suit might be needed when exploring a surface.

 These "kitchen tools in space" are some of my favorite odd illustrations. When imagining what the future may hold it is these small touches that make it real.
But all journeys must come to an end. 
 This chapter (yes the book only has 4 chapters) is the shortest, and least illustrated. Showing how to get there was fun but the return trip is just doing it all backwards (or they had to edit something out so why not this part)

In the words of the author: "Let's go back to the moon!"


  1. A copy of this book was in the Indialantic Elementary School library (back in ancient times - before they had "media centers"). I first found it in first or second grade and distinctly remember a librarian saying it was too advanced for me. Perhaps it was, for I was a very weak reader at that point and I bear no ill will at all. But over the years, I read this book many, many times and always loved the incredibly detailed illustrations. Thank you for posting this and reviving an old memory.

  2. I was the only kid in High School in the early '70's to ever check this book out (repeatedly)! Von Braun's story was okay, but it was the Freeman illos that I couldn't get enough of!! A few years later the librarian gave it to me (they were going through the library and getting rid of "outdated" books) sinve I was the only one interested in it! Dust cover and all!

  3. Funny that you mention Freeman's illustrations as B&W since I remember more color illustrations in a copy that I saw in the 70s. In Fred Ordway's "Visions of Spaceflight" (Publisher's Group West, 2001), several of the scenes are shown in full color.