Friday, February 27, 2009

The Space Age (1962)

This is an British children's reader. Along with Dick and Jane books there would be these books in school with specialized vocabulary. Usually only 54 or 200 words selected from an approved word list.

This book focused on the space age in a very broad sense. It talks about the Earth and how in this new age both the Russians and the U.S. are sending up rockets to see the Earth from space.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Space Rockets: To punch out and assemble (1958)

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.

The upside to these books are the images. Here you see a Von Braun type rocket launching up towards the space station. Down below you see a realist looking rocket just like in the newspapers.

This is one of those effects of the illustrations in these space books that fascinates me. By putting something that is real on the same page as one of these fantastic rockets you imply that both are real. Even if one is unlikely the implication is it is just a matter of time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let's go on a space trip (1963)

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

My Weekly Reader 1957-1958

This is a different post today. I loved My Weekly Reader when I was in elementary school. It was both slacker time to read in class and a chance to read about cool space stuff. These are a few I have found from the 1950s showing the start of the space age.

December 1957: We have decided how the U.S. is going to catch up to the shock of Sputnik.

By March of 1958, after a successful launch in Jan. (finally!) we show that we have this space thing under control and are planning to send U.S. men into space soon.

By November 1958, it is "Here we come, Moon!" We had a confidence that this space travel thing wasn't as hard as the Russians made it out to be. My Weekly Reader told me so.

And now a little quiz from Sept 1958 to see "What do you know about space?"

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. )

Friday, February 20, 2009

Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Science (1965)

Here is one that you have probably never seen unless you grew up in England and saw it as a child.

Walt Disney's wonderful world of science :a child's first book of the world we live in. London : Young World Productions, 30 p. : 34 cm.

Disney did a number of science publications based on their science films in the late 1950s. Most of the science changed in the 1960s but the illustrations were recycled in this book.
Of interest to me was re-use of the Man in Space, and Tomorrow the Moon illustrations. Since this book was written after manned space flight had started and the illustrations were done before manned flight, the text does not exactly match the illustrations. It captures a moment when reality almost outpaced imagination.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Journey to the Moon (1969)

"...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 : The next great adventure (1952)

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

The Giant Book of Things in Space (1969)

Zaffo, George J. Illustrated by Zaffo, George J. The Giant Book of Things in Space. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co Inc. (152 p.) 32 cm.

You wouldn't know it from this book but we were landing on the moon this year. The Giant Book of Things in Space was the last gasp of totally fanciful space flight books for children. The artist didn't look at any of the recent NASA photos. Instead they relied on what they thought space looked like (probably from the books they saw in the 1950s). Space stations were circular, we had an observatory on the moon, and any child could put on a space suit and go exploring. A beautiful but odd book.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rockets to explore the unknown (1964)

Rogers, Don E. Illustrated by Bakacs, George. Rockets to Explore the Unknown. Racine, WI: Whitman Pub Co. (59 p.) 22 cm.

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.

I love this image of the conquest of Mars (or wherever). Sometime I'll create a posting of all the different images of a U.S. flag claiming the Moon, Mars, etc. We are used to calling it propaganda when we see an image of a soviet flag claiming the moon (or currently a Chinese flag) but this reoccurring image was presented to children in many of the U.S. books of the time.

The text focuses on how rockets work and the future uses of rockets. It also includes a chapter on nuclear powered ion engines.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Man in Space (1956)

This was a Dell Comic book (#716) from 1956. It is a "novelization" of the Disney films "Man in Space" (1955) and "Man and the Moon" (1955). These early influential space films were developed by Walt Disney in collaberation with Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley. These were non-fiction films about the coming space age and were seen by 24 million people.
The book gives a short history of space flight, a discussion of what happens to the human body in space, a trip into orbit, and a voyage around the moon. I am facinated by the cover image which except for the space craft could have been a photograph from the Gemini missions ten years later.
Also found as a 1956 UK reprint as "A World Distributors Movie Classic" ( #45).

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Science of Flight ....Present and future(1958)

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!)

It is the illustrations that make this really cool:

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

Space Monkey : The true story of Miss Baker (1960)

Burt, Olive. Space Monkey: The True Story of Miss Baker. New York : John Day Co. (64 p.) 21 cm. Cloth, DJ.

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

The Prentice Hall Book About Space Travel (1954)

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

The world of space (1954)

"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

You will go to the Moon (1959)

I wanted to start off with my favorite space book, You will go to the moon. This was THE book of my childhood to inspire my love of space flight. It is one of the first real book I remember. What seems strange to me was my journey away from this book and back again.

As a grade schooler in the 1960s space flight was everywhere and I couldn't read enough about it. But as other interests set in I left my space obsession behind as a teenager. I followed space news through the late 70s and 80s but was not as I said "obsessed". Around 1990 I moved to Orange County and had a huge number of changes in my life happening all at once. Among other things I found the need to have a cheap hobby to keep me going.

I found when I went to used bookstores and library sales there were a huge number of children's spaceflight books. Most of these books were .25 and .50 so I couldn't help but pick up those that brought back memories of my space age youth.

The crystallization of this turning into a collection was my wife saying she had an old space book from her childhood at home and did I want it? Upon seeing You will go to the moon I was completely swept back to an age of optimism. I did think I was going to live on the moon someday. When and how had that dream changed?

Freeman, Mae and Freeman, Ira. Illustrated by Patterson, Robert. You Will Go to the Moon. New York: Beginner Books. (54 p.) 24 cm. Illustrated Boards, DJ.

This was not my book but rather the first edition of the book. It was an "I can read it all by myself Beginner Books " (195/195) produced under the supervision of Dr. Seuss. It has a dust jacket with an illustration of a boy observing a rocket take off. My book was this one, the one without the rocket:

Beginner's Books in the 1960s had a deal where parent could subscribe to a kind of "book a month" series where your child would be sent a new beginner's book. This probably led to my life long love of packages coming in the mail. Opening this book was a trip!

The story concerns an imaginary trip to the Moon taken by a young boy and his adult friend. The rocket, and space station, are very much Von Braun style, while the Moon landing craft and Moon base are more British Interplanetary Society designs. The cover states that for accuracy the manuscript was submitted to the Office of the Director of Research and Development of the United States Air Force. Aimed at beginning readers it went into multiple printings through the Beginner Books Club.

The book was my trip to the moon and I remember almost every page. Striking images were watching a baseball game on television as you floated in zero-g on the way to the moon and this image of looking down on the moon base.

It was reprinted endlessly and traveled to Britain to be reprinted there in 1962.
The book was updated in 1971. The illustrations after 10 years of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo looked quaint.

It was updated from the 1959 edition by reusing the same text and redrawing and "updating" the illustrations so that the spacesuits and spacecrafts more resemble those of the Apollo program.
The crew in the ships looks dressed more Star Trek than NASA in their long sleeve polo shirts. The circular space stations is still there but the lunar landing craft is an odd hybrid of the LEM and the Command module.

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.