Moonshot was brought up a few times in our discussions of short texts that could be Newbery worthy. As commenters like Monica and Wendy have pointed out, the poetic text is full of great imagery and sound. "High above / there is the Moon, / cold and quiet, / no air, no life, / but glowing in the sky. // Here below / there are three men / who close themselves in special clothes / who-click-lock hands / in heavy gloves…" Make sure to read it aloud to get the homophones and near rhymes that make it so delightful.
The rhythm isn’t fully sustained…in fact, it’s a rather longer text than the brevity of the opening would suggest. But the voice (and there is one, even though it’s informational…think of an omniscent narrator on Sesame Street) is always conscious of its delivery, and focuses on details that will engage its audience: "it takes some skill to eat a meal. / That ham salad sandwich? Watch the crumbs! / Soup? It comes in a bag, dry as dust. / Fix the bag to the water gun, fill it, mix it, stir it up. / Cream of chicken–not too bad! / (Better than the peanut cubes.)"
"Interpretation of the theme or concept," "Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization," "Appropriatness of style,"…this does pretty well on all marks pertinent to it, even "Development of a plot" and "Delineation of setting" as Floca evokes the tension and excitement of viewers on Earth watching the first moon landing.
I’m not sure that this would rise to the top of my list of Newbery contenders, but it does make a fascinating exercise, and I’d be curious to hear a little more from Monica or others who’ve read it to kids. In my mind it almost bears better comparison to Marilyn Nelson’s Sweethearts of Rhythm for what it attempts to do, than to other picture book texts.
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About Nina Lindsay
Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at email@example.com
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