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!"

Friday, March 13, 2015

First Men to the Moon (1960) (part 1)

I tend to think of March 22 every year as a peculiar sort of anniversary. On March 22, 1952 the first issue of the 8 part Collier's "Man will conquer space soon!"  series was published.

I would like to share a book written by Wernher von Braun and illustrated profusely by Fred Freeman. Both of these men were involved in the Collier's series and First Men to the Moon is a sort of next step in visionary space literature (called sometimes astrofuturism).

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

This book is a description of a voyage to the Moon with extreme scientific detail (being the only children's book written by Wernher Von Braun). There are sketches and drawings on almost every page. Adapted from a 1958-1960 serial story written for "This Week" magazine. See 1961 UK reprint and a "condensed version for children" as part of the anthology "Treasury for young readers" (1961).

I blogged about the first of these "This Week" issues here back in 2013:

I thought many of you had not seen the Fred Freeman drawings and paintings and would appreciate a chance to sample this book.

For a 1960 book you will see how it looks very familiar to what actually was photographs by 1967 and 1969.

The one big difference is the final stages (3-5) of the rocket in this fictional work is both the lander and the aerodynamic return vehicle.

Even the proposed landing area is not that far from the Sea of Tranquility.

It is the detail in these drawings that I find so fascinating. Put together a visionary space scientist and a talented technical artist and you get some very interesting "what-if" illustrations.  Look for part 2 in 10 days on March 22.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What's Going on in Space? (1968)

A return to a factual space book. I like the illustration style and the paperback format may not have been widely seen by most of you.

Hendrickson Jr., Walter B. Illustrated by Heugh, James. What's Going On in Space? Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Harvey House Inc / New York: Young Reader’s Press (48 p.) 24 cm. 

 Covers the basic history and principles of space flight.  Also cover the history of the US space program through 1970. Illustrations of rockets, spacesuits, Gemini and Apollo ships. "Science Parade" series. Softcover F835.

As we get to approaching 47 years since this book was published, the drawings of the spacecraft are looking "quaint", even though they are still state of the art in some ways.

I still wonder how we could create books with a view towards an optimistic (perhaps overly) plan for future ways we might explore out solar system and go to the stars.