Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca

Awards:  Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Books of the Year 2009. 

Moonshot is an excellent mentor text to use to model and demonstrate a hybrid genre: it is narrative nonfiction about a historical event written in non-rhyming verse! That interesting mix makes a wonderful book about a fascinating and exciting time in US history.

Moonshot is also a wonderful ‘unconventional’ nonfiction mentor to use to demonstrate how to change up informational writing from writing just facts on a page ‘to teach someone something’, to making those facts come alive through a narrative writing voice. Interested writers could explore different writing and craft moves similar to the text in Moonshot.

Book Talk
In Moonshot, Brian Floca introduces readers to the journey of Apollo 11, the space mission that landed the first humans on the moon. He poetically writes about the astronaut’s complete journey from start to finish: starting the morning of the launch—saying goodbye to their families, getting into their incredibly, huge space suits and walking out to space ship, strapping in and then the countdown to liftoff. He takes readers into the Mission Control before the lift off and we hear the infamous “Go / No Go” from the mission control crew. Through his simplistic writing, Floca also helps the reader understand the importance and complications of the machinery of the rocket. His writing helps build the tension (on the moon and on Earth) for the reader of the actual landing on the moon when Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin miss their landing mark by four miles. He beautifully describes the astronauts dramatic view back to Earth from the moon, the final splashdown and being back home with their families.

Favorite lines:
"But in that blank and starless sky...
...high above
there is the Earth,
rushing oceans, racing clouds,
swaying fields and forests.
Family, friends and strangers,
everyone you've ever known,
everyone you  might--
the good and lonely Earth,
glowing in the sky."

Floca weaves and blends the facts of the entire space mission with a masterful storyteller’s voice. HIs writing invites readers to easily understand and digest the facts of the sequence of events, the importance of this momentous event and the bravery of the astronauts.

Be sure to point out the fabulous illustrations to students!  Enlarged with a document camera would really enhance the illustrations for the students.

Inside the covers, Floca adds a detailed timeline and  more in-depth information about the flight, that interested students will devour!

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Hybrid-Narrative Nonfiction written in verse
Reading Workshop strategies: Search for and Use Information, maintain fluency, predicting, inferring
Writing Workshop genre and strategies: Informational writing- narrative; Unconventional informational writing, elaboration
Curriculum themes: science/ space exploration

Brian Flora’s website:http://brianfloca.com/

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