This will be my sprawling holiday post this year, so hang on for too many pictures. I am a huge Chesley Bonestell fan and I was able to purchase the preliminary cover to the 1961 edition and some associated materials so this is my chance to put it all together.
We will start here with the 1960 version.
Nicholson, Thomas D. A Rocket Trip to the Moon. New York: Columbia Record Club. (45 p.) 30 cm. Illustrated Boards. 1960 (with "panorama" slides")
The format of these books starts with a short history of space flight, followed by 1 page of text per illustration describing an imaginary trip to the Moon with some striking illustrations of a landing on the Moon. Book includes 2 cards containing 32 (6 x 14 mm) slides of the illustrations, which could be projected with a special projector. The series was revised and this title was replaced by Bonestell, "Rocket to the Moon" (1961). "Adventures in Nature and Science Panorama Colorslide book". and updated as "Rocket to the Moon" (1968).
So that is a taste of the 1960 book, now to "Rocket to the Moon" (1961)
Bonestell, Chesley. Illustrated by Bonestell, Chesley. Rocket to the Moon. New York: Columbia Record Club Inc. (46 p.) 30 cm. 1961
This version consists of a short introduction to space flight and then 32 pages where each page describes a different stage of a trip to the moon represented by the illustration. The book includes a set of 2 cards containing 32 (6 x 14 mm) slides of the illustrations, which could be projected with a special projector and a 33 1/3 RPM (20 min.) record with narration by Walter Cronkite. "Panorama" series. Also 1968 edition with some of the paintings in color.
Here is Chesley Bonestell's original planned cover and a few of his plans for revising the book from the 1960 version:
This illustration did not appear in the final book. This one below is the closest to it:
Chesley Bonestell had created art for the Men into Space television series (1959-1960) so you can see this is very much his style at the time:
As you can see he used illustrations from the 1960 version to plan the order of the illustrations.
This is the only "original art" inside the book, a very small drawing of the ship half-way to the Earth.
On to the published 1961 book:
You can see Chesley Bonestell original handwritten index below:
This color painting was shown in the 1968 version, notice how the distinctive space ship was cut-off from the "updated" book. Whenever there was a color version in the 1968 book I have put it below the B&W one from the 1961 book.
The other "treat" in this book is the record at the end recorded by Walter Cronkite. I don't have a way to share it right now, but who better to narrate a trip to the moon?
Bonestell, Chesley. Illustrated by Bonestell, Chesley and Borja, Robert. Rocket to the Moon (2nd edition). Chicago: Children's Press. (63 p.) 29 cm. Illustrated Cloth. 1968
This was an updated version of the 1961 book with photographs from the space program and an Apollo-type landing shown. The text remains much the same. What is special about this book is that the some of the Chesley Bonestell B&W paintings from the 1961 edition are now reproduced as full color, full page illustrations. Also included are color paintings by Robert Borja of the planned Apollo landing on the Moon.