Monday, July 2, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Eight Days Gone

Eight Days Gone
written by Linda McReynolds; illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke
2012 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Booktalking

Launchpad countdown.
Smoke and flame.
Rumbling. Blasting.
Seizing fame.

Another book about the Apollo 11 moon landing? What makes this one special? I'm glad you asked. There were some terrific books published around the 40th anniversary of this 1969 event, but the text of those books appeal more to third or fourth grade students and above. Now we have a book that details the event that is more accessible to non-readers and beginning readers. I would have shown the illustrations of the other moon landing books to really young readers, but after reading two pages of text, their eyes would have glazed over and their attention would be have been lost among the density of the details. As you can see from the portions displayed above and below, Eight Days Gone has a great rhythm that grabs young readers.

It's one thing to have this rhythm in a book about cute furry animals, but to pull it off when describing an historical event is an admirable feat of writing dexterity. You might be tempted to think that there isn't much meat to this text since it is aimed at young readers, but you would be wrong. McReynolds shows the sequence of how the rocket goes from launchpad to moon landing which means you get mention of the lunar module disconnecting, Michael Collins staying with the ship, and Armstrong and Aldrin exploring the surface. She also inserts descriptive words like tranquil, barren, stark, and ashen that can be a boost to a lesson on how to make your writing more visual. Speaking of visual, Ryan O'Rourke's retro illustrations are first-class snapshots of the event. My favorite two page spread shows Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon while staring back at the Earth. It gives readers an excellent view of Aldrin's perspective at that moment.

Eight Days Gone will provide a platform for many rich discussions about space exploration with young readers. For moms and dads at home, the rhythm of the book makes it a great bedtime story. I'm jealous because I would have liked to have read this book with my daughters when they were younger. For teachers, you can use Eight Days Gone for lessons on descriptive writing, sequence, and character. If you want to develop a lesson on bravery, I think this book would be a good place to start.

More in-depth details are provided in the author's note along with a photograph of the lunar module ascending.


  1. It sounds wonderful - and perfect for sharing this summer to fit in with the CSLP theme of Dream Big: READ! And welcome back. Your trip looked wonderful as well.

  2. Thank you, Lisa! It was a wonderful trip. I look longingly at the Copenhagen weather forecast of temps in the high 60s.

  3. From the little snippet you shared, this might also make a wonderful mentor text for writing workshop, Jeff.

  4. Hi Jeff, I loved your photos of the children's books in Danish!
    I'm intrigued by the simple (as in spare) rhyming text of this book. As you said, pulling it off to describe a historical event is a feat. I've already ordered it from our library. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. This looks like an interesting book. I will recommend it to my teacher friends. By the way, you got the author's name wrong in paragraph two.

  6. Thanks, Bob! I appreciate you catching my error.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful book - one which had completely passed me by, but which I hope I can get easily over here in the UK. Thanks so much for joining up with today's space themed carnival.

  8. Wow! What a flattering review! Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad that you enjoyed my book!

    1. It's a terrific book, Linda! Congratulations on the publication.


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