Book Review Archive: The Far Side of the Moon

This review was originally published in School Library Journal’s May 2017 issue.

The Far Side of the Moon by Alex Irvine & Ben Bishop

Gr 5-8. Everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but how many people can reliably name Apollo 11’s third man, the one who is most known for not getting to walk on the moon? Irvine and Bishop look to increase that number by focusing on the experiences of Michael Collins while telling the story of the moon landing in graphic format. Collins was the first person to walk in space twice and the first to orbit the moon. The pace of this title is fairly slow, as the narrative meanders between a straightforward account of the events of and leading up to the Apollo 11 mission and flashbacks to the Gemini 10 mission. Technical illustrations of spacesuits and rocket stages are included, and Irvine covers the daily tasks Collins was responsible for to keep the command module functioning. Bishop’s illustrations stick to a limited palette (black, white, and purple) but are versatile, showing great contrast among the technical drawings, scenes taking place on Earth, and those in the vastness of space. One of the standout sequences is the cinematic spread of the launch, with a sketchy close-up of Collins in the second panel that effectively brings to life this momentous occasion. 

VERDICT Readers looking for an exciting graphic novel adventure may be disappointed, but true space enthusiasts will appreciate the details that shed light on the reality of being part of the lunar mission. For larger collections seeking additional materials on space.—Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library [Copyright 2017 School Library Journal. ]