Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Draw Rockets & Spaceships (1958)

Probably not a children's book but I imagine a child finding this and learning how to draw their favorite stuff. Certainly I would have cherished this one if I had seen it at the right age (back when we decorated our notebooks).

Sargeant, Charles. Illustrated by Sargeant, Charles. How to Draw Rockets and Spaceships. London : The Studio Publications. (64 p.) 18 cm. (1958) 

 An unusual "children's" book, it is dedicated to "The Spaceship Pilots of the Future".  Straightforward text on drawing, shadow, perspective etc. with short sections on rocket theory and the future of space travel. It has very nice drawings of rockets, space stations, Moon landers and a moon base. Worth seeking out for the beautiful art. Part of a series of "How to draw" books. (How to draw, no. 43.)

What I enjoy most is that it gives you some basic art techniques to start but then much of the book is "inspiration" and examples of what you could draw. These examples are beautiful.

Charles Sargeant did a very nice job with the text describing the scenes he drew. He seems to have had some interest in manned space flight so the book reads like a guide for both non-fiction and fictional illustrations.

I have not been able to find out very much about him except this book and a science fiction novel of the time that he illustrated.

These illustrations show how perspective can be changed to create some dynamic illustrations.

Finally I love this flying car.  Most illustrations just show them going downtown but this one really can take you places!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Eagle Book of Spacecraft Models (1960)

Eagle Book of Spacecraft Models is a book about how to construct your own model spaceships from balsa wood. Back in the dark ages, if something wasn't available as a plastic model they would publish plans that allowed you to cut it out of balsa wood and assemble it.

Malmstrom, Ray. Eagle Book of Spacecraft Models. London : Longacre Press Ltd. (64 p.) 27 cm. (1960)

The text minimally describes some of the plans for space exploration. The book is not about manned space flight as such, rather it contains 9 full size plans “to build tomorrow's balsa wood models today”. These were inspired by both fictional rockets and by the real manned rocket efforts.

Rather than show all the plans I wanted to highlight the images of some of the spacecraft and the boys who fly them.

The text does talk just a little about the on-going space efforts.
Mostly it is the plans and instructions that make up the majority of the book.

It is these scraps of non-fictional encouragement that I am excited to find. The "grand spaceflight progression" is here too in the form of "man's penetration of deep space can only follow his successful conquest of the moon and the nearer planets.."  The readers were made to feel that by building these rockets they were part of this continuing exploration.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Modern Marvels of Flight (1956)

Modern Marvels of Flight (1956) fits into the British aviation category of books. The British much more than the Americans (seemingly) would have a chapter or two about spaceflight put in books that were primarily about aviation. This one is particular shows the basics of rocketry. 

Foster-Page, George. Illustrated by Baker, Denys. Modern Marvels of Flight. London : Ward, Lock and Co. Ltd. (64 p.) 26 cm. (1956)

The best things about it are the cover and this one color illustration.

This is the entire short section about "Rockets into space" pp. 28-31.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why Satellites Stay in Orbit (1964)

Why Satellites Stay in Orbit is another of these very simple factual books for children. By taking one fact or phenomenon, the story can expand to explain it in simple terms with many examples.

Engelbrektson, Sune. Illustrated by Ames, Lee. Why Satellites Stay in Orbit? New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc. (26 p.) (1964)

 A very basic book on gravity using satellites and space craft as examples. Includes Illustrations of satellites, rockets and the Earth from space.

These books are exactly why I started collecting children's non-fiction about space. When they became out of date they were discarded. However they represented a kind of peak in science education and are interesting to remember.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Gravity and the Astronauts (1970)

Gravity and the Astronauts (1970) is an example of the non-fiction science books for children that focus on one narrow topic.  This is a basic text about gravity using as examples how astronauts cope with the lack of gravity.  The illustrations are especially nice in this one.

Freeman, Mae. Illustrated by Darwin, Beatrice. Gravity and the Astronauts. New York : Crown. (31 p.) 20 x 24 cm. Cloth, DJ. (1970)

I am attracted to the humor in the illustrations. Rarely do you see the astronauts smiling as they fly through space. Living in zero and lower gravity looks like fun.

Maybe the images are repetitive but the text explains how gravity affects how you live in space.

 I think this is one of the few drawings I have ever seen of an astronaut sleeping.
The text reminds the reader that everything is changed if you don't have gravity.

A gentle and fun book that feels like going to space might feel more like a vacation than real work. I hope your upcoming summer has as much relaxation in it as these astronauts seems to find on their way to the moon.