As a social worker and family guidance counsellor I’m always on the lookout for books to introduce to my clients’ children. Hence why I requested to read a galley of this book. Thank you, Capstone (Stone Arch Books) for accepting my request. In return, I wrote this (honest, unbiased) review.
Title: Audrey and Apollo 11
Author: Rebecca Rissman
Illustrator: Jacqui Davis
Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction
Themes: Future goals and standing up for yourself
First publication: Stone Arch Books (August 2020)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 stars)
What I liked: Educational and charming
What I didn’t like: The lack of depth
What is this? Audrey and Apollo 11 is a charming story about a young girl with a passion for space travel. She wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps, working for NASA, and spends her days tinkering on rockets. But although Audrey is sincere in her dream, she’s also being discouraged by… well, she’s a girl.
Why did I request this galley? I’m a social worker attending to people living in poverty and newcomers. In our projects with families, one of our goals is to council families and introduce children to books that can help them develop their personalities but also practice certain languages. Hence why I requested to read this galley. Whenever we stumble upon books that will be a nice addition to our own small library, we add it to our list to purchase through our organisation. This book, I suspected, would be a nice addition for a few of our children who are big space nerds and want to practice their English.
“You’ll have to get used to speaking up when nobody wants to listen to what you have to say.”
My review: This story has a charming way of saying: “Do it, chase that dream and don’t be sorry for it”. And that’s a very strong message we want to send to children. It contains a powerful message shaped into a feel-good children’s tale.
There’s an educational theme going around but it’s also adventurous and empowering. The author chose to link a story about identity and dreams to the real life launch of Apollo 11. I think this is a very smart choice. Doing this allowed the author to teach children space slang and history. If done right, children will more likely pick up a book like this rather than an obligatory school book. And, in my humble opinion, this book is done right.
I can highly recommend this for children who are fascinated by anything space related. I can already think of at least five families I counsel to, who would benefit from this book. The author includes a glossery for the space slang (thank you for teaching me trans-lunar injection because that’s some cool bananas) used and a brief history of the space race between USA and the Soviets. This is a nice educational touch on top of a charming fictional story about a girl who just wants to chase her dream and have fun.
The one thing I hoped this book would do more, is add more personality and passion for space. For example: descriptions of Audrey’s room, Audrey rambling more about space travel, and so on. It’s small things like this that would add more heart to the story. The lack of these descriptions made the book feel a bit too rushed for my liking. I understand children’s books can’t be too long but details like a ceiling filled with stars would only widen children’s eyes in delight. And I was a space-obsessed girl myself and I can tell you; my room was filled with light-up stars on the ceiling, moving planet decorations and small astronaut dolls. It’s something personal of course, but I think things like this would add even more charm. — But yeah, let’s be honest, I just like reading about space.
What I also want to add is that the illustrations, done by Jacqui Davis who also works on several board games, are done so well. Her illustrations have such an imaginative atmosphere. I hope the final copy of Audrey and Apollo 11 will feature these illustrations in color, because it’s one of Jacqui’s talents.
Summarized: Very charming story about a girl learning how to stand up for herself and chasing her dreams. The only thing missing, for me, is more depth into descriptions and characterization of Audrey’s love for space travel. Historical fiction in children’s books is a very smart genre to educate and still keep a fictional, adventurous theme.