Bok's Giant Leap: One Moon Rock's Journey Through Time and Space

by Neil Armstrong (Author) Grahame Baker Smith (Illustrator)

Bok's Giant Leap: One Moon Rock's Journey Through Time and Space
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

First man on the moon Neil Armstrong's only children's book is a unique exploration of how the Earth and the Moon came to be. The entire epic history of the Earth and the Moon is recounted through the observations of one special moon rock named Bok. Geologists say that rocks remember, and Bok certainly does. It recounts how its life began on Earth, until a collision with an asteroid catapults it into orbit during the creation of the Moon. From the Moon's surface, Bok watches the developing planet change from afar--until a strange creature scoops him up and brings him back to Earth. When NASA honored Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong and gave him a piece of moon rock from that mission, Armstrong playfully named the rock Bok in his acceptance speech.

Award-winning illustrator Grahame Baker-Smith has created a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind picture book based on that speech, combining fascinating science and history with the grandest human adventure of all.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-4--Bok, a cute anthropomorphized rock with craters for eyes, has been on the moon from the very beginning. From the violent cosmic collision of its creation to the subsequent cooling, the moon's long geologic history seems to be the focus of the story. But what starts as a study of the moon's history transforms into an overview of life on earth. That shift in direction is unexpected, as Bok's role is downgraded from an active participant through billions of years of geologic change, to a far-off observer to the evolution of life on earth, to a sleeper through human history, until picked up by Neil Armstrong to be taken back to earth for further study. The overview of earth's natural history skips some steps to get to the modern day. As Bok is sleeping, humanity is innovating and inventing, with significant historical figures such as Bessie Coleman and Plato mentioned, although without explanation of their significance. Eventually, humans succeed in putting men on the moon, completing the circle started with the moon's creation billions of years ago. Back matter includes additional information about the moon, earth, and the 1969 moon landing, but no glossary or time line, so the time frames and vocabulary may be confusing to young readers. The illustrations are lovely, creating a clear vision of the cosmic impacts and volcanic explosions of the moon's early days and the strangeness of the earth's early life forms. VERDICT Despite its minor flaws, this exploration of deep time as witnessed by one ancient little moon rock will appeal to budding astronauts, future paleontologists, and burgeoning geologists alike.--Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State Univ., OH

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Based on a 2006 speech that late American astronaut Armstrong delivered upon receiving a basalt moon rock he subsequently named Bok, this picture book follows Bok through billions of years, from inception to his journey to Earth aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, resulting in a piece of him ("A chip off the old Bok, you could say!") being permanently displayed in a Cincinnati museum. The narrative's tone embodies a wry sense of humor as it personifies Bok: "He was roughly thrown into a box with some acquaintances he knew only slightly." Baker-Smith contributes engrossing, cinematic spreads detailing the formation of the continents, life growing beneath the ocean, dinosaurs, ice ages, and more. Back matter includes more information on the moon, Earth, and Armstrong, with photographs. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A small bit of the primordial Earth is blasted into space...and a long time later makes a return journey via Apollo 11...A compelling invitation to take the long view." -Kirkus Reviews

"An appealing STEM read-aloud." -Booklist

Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong was an American hero for being the first human to walk on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 mission. His illustrious international career included many special honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Armstrong passed away in 2012 at the age of 82. This is his only book for children.

Grahame Baker-Smith studied at the Berkshire College of Art and Design and is the author and illustrator of many picture books in his uniquely lyrical digital style. In 2011, his picture book FArTHER won the Kate Greenaway Medal, the most prestigious prize in British illustration.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
February 20, 2022

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