Thursday, December 12, 2019
The Astronaut who Painted the Moon, written by Dean Robbins, reviewed by Klaudia Janek
Summary: On November 14, 1969, the Apollo 12 launched into the gaping depths of space, landing on the barren moon. Alan Bean, the fourth man to set foot on the moon, was the first artist to ever touch the breaches of space, returning not only with important research but with the drive and motivation to translate the emotions and beauty he saw on the moon in the way only an artist’s eye could. He used expressive methods he learned as an art student before he was an astronaut, painting and brushing colors and visions to represent and express his experiences that no photograph could do justice to.
Straight Talk for Librarians: Such a book is valuable to both aspiring artists and astronauts, and it can even be used in history classes to teach about the Space Race and missions to the moon. The illustrations within the book hold excellent examples of color theory with its recurring motifs of the watercolored complementary pair of purple and yellow, using purple, a cooler, receding color, as shadow and yellow, a warmer color, as highlights. The crosshatching throughout the book expresses a sketchy, less realistic style of art, further emphasizing the recurring idea that art does not require realism to be beautiful and expressive. The use of contrast between monochrome color schemes and deep, rich colors aids in the emphasis of certain ideas and images. For aspiring astronauts, the book teaches about some processes of becoming a professional astronaut and appeals to the beauty and vast adventure of being in space. The book targets an audience that is at the prime age of finding their footing in the world, and Alan Bean’s sweet, inspirational dreams of a black sky and bright stars are relatable to the audience. Perhaps a young child who serendipitously picks up this book might one day end up seeing the same stunning view as Alan Bean. In terms of the theme, the book teaches the invaluable lesson that art doesn’t have to be restricted to the rigid expectations of realism; through breaking the restrictive bars of realism, artists can express the most beautiful ideas and views otherwise unachievable. It also serves as an example of dreams and aspirations, setting off the imaginations of young viewers of their future careers. The uplifting and hopeful mood throughout the story gives the audience a sense of determination and hope that they can achieve their dreams. Overall, “The Astronaut who Painted the Moon” is an appropriate, inspiring choice for young readers, useful in a wide variety of contexts and libraries.