On July 20th1969, three days before my ninth birthday, I crouched in front of our TV set, mesmerised by the grainy, black and white images of Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon. I watched the footage over and over again, hooked on the promise that, by the time I was a young man we’d have entire cities up on the moon and people would go there for their holidays.
Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way– and little progress has been made in the way of moon landings since then. But I think my love of science fiction was born right there. So, as we home in on the 50thanniversary of the moon landings, I thought I would celebrate with another sci-fi related top ten – so here are my top ten kids’ sci-fi (and sci-fact) books for moon-obsessed small people:
# 10. Moonshot: Brian Floca(2009) – an essential read for any budding space-person – Brian Floca’s simply told, poetic tale of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 is accompanied by his beautiful detailed illustrations that should satisfy the most detail-hungry young moon-geek.
# 9. The First Men in the Moon – HG Wells (1901)– another from one of the Granddaddies of sci-fi – expect such scientific improbabilities as anti-gravity, moon-beings, moon snow and edible moon plants. Not much like the world that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin discovered but a cracking good yarn nonetheless.
# 8. Moon Whales – Ted Hughes (1988)– Moon poetry from Ted Hughes, beautiful, evocative and packed with nonsense. As an added bonus it’s illustrated by Chris Riddell too – what’s not to like?
# 7. Powers of Ten – Phylis & Philip Morrison (1994) – A book all about the relative size of things in the universe – it takes young readers through 42 separate scenes, each at a different ‘power of 10’ magnification from a single proton right the way through to galaxy clusters – it’s not exactly about the moon (but it features in there somewhere along the scale). I checked this out of the school library at least a dozen times.
# 6. Long Night Moon – Cynthia Rylant, Mark Siegel (2004)– a beautifully illustrated picture book that talks about the 12 names that Native Americans gave to the different full moons throughout the year. It’s not sci-fi – but it’s my list, ok?
# 5.The boy who climbed to the moon – David Almond (2015): Paul lives in his basement, he hates school and he believes the moon is a hole in the sky. But when he meets Molly, she persuades him to test his theories with the help of a very long ladder. Quirky and poetic, a story about the importance of testing crackpot notions from the very wonderful author of Skellig.
# 4.Maggot Moon – Sally Gardner (2013): We never really went to the moon – the moon landings were faked….by nazis. Such is the premise of Maggot Moon – a totally original story about a boy with different coloured eyes, who sees things differently from the rest of the ‘train-track thinkers’. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
# 3. Cosmic – Frank Cottrell-Boyce (2015): I once spent an afternoon with Frank in which he held an audience of over 200 schoolchildren spellbound for an hour with nothing more than his charm and razor wit. His humour is not in the least bit diluted in printed form and Cosmic remains one of my favourite kid’s stories ever. A brilliantly funny, cautionary tale of a boy who is big for his age and who accidentally gets sent to the moon. Priceless!
# 2. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943): The most translated book in France which still sells around 2m copies every year. A beautiful tale of loneliness and friendship in the form of a story about a young prince who leaves the little moon where he lives and travels to Earth. Partly based on Saint-Exupery’s adventures as an aviator and partly fantasy – the charm of this story is hard to pin down but once read it will stay with you.
# 1. Destination Moon – Herge (1953): When I wasn’t monopolising ‘Powers of 10’ in the school library, I was reading this. ‘Destination Moon’ is a graphic novel (though the teachers disapprovingly called it a comic back then) written and illustrated by Georges Prosper Remi, better known by his pen name of Herge. It follows the continuing adventures of fearless young reporter, Tintin, Snowy the dog, Professor Calculus and Captain Haddock as they participate in the first manned mission to the moon. The story is funny, geeky, adventurous andit features that ultra-cool, iconic red and white checked rocket ship.
Since you’re here,why not sign up to my email list on the home page – I promise not to bug you too much, but I will let you know when I have new stories coming out or when I have free offers, competitions or other goodies. If you know a small person who loves sci-fi as much as me then this might be for them.