If You Decide to Go to the Moon

by Faith McNulty (Author) Steven Kellogg (Illustrator)

If You Decide to Go to the Moon
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Rise and Shine

Two artists at the height of their powers have created a beautiful book with an unforgettable message about the moon and an even more important message about the earth. A publishing event!

"If you decide to go to the moon," writes Faith McNulty, "read this book first. It will tell you how to get there and what to do after you land. The most important part tells you how to get home.

Written in the second person, the text allows the reader to participate in every aspect of the journey, from packing ("don't forget your diary and plenty of food") to lift off (at first you'll feel heavy; don't worry") to traveling thorugh space (where "the moon glows like a pearl in the black, black sky"). The reader lands at the Sea of Tranquility, the site of the first lunar landing

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Kirkus Review - Children

Starred Review

Many dream of exploring outer space, but this wonderfully engaging guide to space travel walks young readers through the adventure, starting with what to pack on the rocket ship: “Peanut butter, apples, and cake will taste good in space.” Gentle warnings issued about meteors (“a collision is unlikely”); the loneliness of space (“Don’t look back at the earth”); not pouring juice (“it would fly into a million drops”); and the difficulty of the first step on the Moon (“You will rise in the air and leap forward like a kangaroo”) will only encourage and inspire budding astronauts. Indeed, McNulty, elegantly fusing the scientific realities and the dreamy wonders of space travel, finds the perfect partner in Kellogg who accomplishes the same thing visually. Eerily beautiful, cleverly textured moonscapes of ghostly grays and inky blacks contrast dramatically with cheerful full-color spreads (including a spectacular double gatefold) that reflect the beauty and abundance of life on Earth with sunny yellows, grassy greens and sky blues. A powerful, playful tribute to the minutiae and magnificence of space exploration. (Picture book. 7-10)

School Library Journal

Starred Review
K-Gr 3 -In this lavish picture book, readers accompany a boy on a fascinating excursion to the moon. The lyrical text provides tips on what to pack and describes the distance to be covered. After blastoff, facts about space travel are mingled with descriptions of what the journey might be like: the loneliness, the lack of gravity, and how you might pass the time. After landing, the text warns: -Your first step will be difficult. You will rise in the air and leap forward like a kangaroo, but once you learn how, walking will be fun. - It also suggests that the moon's lack of sound and color may make it seem like a dream. After viewing the flag left behind by astronauts, it's time to depart. As Earth looms closer, a four-page foldout in a glorious burst of color marks our planet's contrast to the moon's black-and-white shades. These pages depict a variety of wonders: all sorts of animals and landscapes as well as people from different historical periods and locales. The narrative notes, -Air and water are Earth's special blessings. We must guard them well. - The final pages show the boy returning home. Rich artwork complements the strong text. Kellogg's generous splashes of bright hues in the Earth and shipboard scenes juxtaposed with the somber moonscapes set the appropriate moods. Houston, we have a winner!" -DeAnn Tabuchi, San Anselmo Public Library, CA" Copyright 2005 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In this impressive picture book, an aspiring astronaut imagines a trip to the moon from soup to nuts -and gains a bird's eye -perspective on why it's important to protect his planet. McNulty ("The Elephant Who Couldn't Forget") adopts a playful tone as she takes the young hero through preparations, liftoff, a moonwalk and the return trip, mixing hard facts ("If you average 3,750 miles per hour, you will get there in two-and-a-half days) with poetic phrases ("the moon, the mysterious moon, / glows like a pearl in the black, black sky"). The highlight occurs when the boy astronaut discovers the plaque and flag left by the men of "Apollo 11" in 1969, linking him to a long legacy of courageous American space explorers. Kellogg's ("Is Your Mama a Llama?") sweeping spreads of realistic space- and moonscapes strike just the right balance of beauty and eeriness; one of the most dramatic shows the hero as a tiny, doll-like figure standing at a point where the moon's silvery, barren landscape meets the pitch-black depths of the galaxy. As the returning astronaut contemplates the earth from the vantage point of space, the narrative turns a bit saccharine ("Air and water are Earth's special blessings./ .../ you promise you will always do your best/ to protect all life on our beautiful Earth"). Yet Kellogg's four-panel gatefold celebrating all the earth's inhabitants adds substance to McNulty's call to action, encompassing whales and penguins, as well as cavemen and contemporary children at a swimming hole against a backdrop of spires, domes and skyscrapers. Ages 4-8. "(Oct.)" Copyright 2005 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

Review quotes

Faith McNulty
Faith McNulty was born in New York City. She attended private schools, and left college after two years to work for The New York Daily News. Because she has a deep interest in animals and their behavior, she wrote about animals for The New Yorker for twenty years. Many of her experiences as an animal writer are the basis for her current writings for children. Faith also worked as a children's book reviewer for The New Yorker magazine from 1979 to 1991. Currently she lives at her farm in Rhode Island and writes children's books.
Steven Kellogg has illustrated more than a hundred books, including IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA? and THE DAY JIMMY'S BOA ATE THE WASH. He has also retold and illustrated the adventures of tall-tale heroes such as Paul Bunyan, Mike Fink, and Johnny Appleseed. He lives in Essex, New York.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2005
Rise and Shine
BISAC categories
JNF051040 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | Astronomy
Library of Congress categories
Space flight to the moon
Parents Choice Award (Fall) (1998-2007)
Winner 2005 - 2005
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards
Winner 2006 - 2006
Red Clover Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
North Carolina Children's Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2008

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