T-Minus: The Race to the Moon (review)
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Reviewed by
Ottaviani, Jim. T-Minus: The Race to the Moon; illus. by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon. Aladdin, 2009124p. ISBN 978-1-4169-8682-9$21.99 R Gr. 6-10

The countdown in this graphic novel begins at T-minus twelve years, when a team of aeronautic engineers in Langley, Virginia chatter informally about plans for a "world circling spaceship," and their Soviet counterparts display a prototype Sputnik for a rapt Premier Khrushchev. The race is on, and Ottaviani toggles between the parallel enterprises, capturing the escalating political and scientific rivalry that would advance human space exploration and endanger a generation of astro- and cosmonauts with rushed designs, undertested spacecraft, and vital knowledge kept jealously—and fatally—guarded. As the human drama unfolds in formally bordered black-and-white frames (captioned with definitions, as necessary), sidebars of each ensuing American and Soviet launch offer a sketch of the craft, mission date, duration, goal, and where applicable, astronaut. The format is an effective one, and despite the reader's knowledge of the outcome, the tension that builds up to the moment when Armstrong's boot touches the lunar surface is palpable. Ottaviani freely admits to some fictionalization, but, as noted in his closing remarks, much of it lies in the compression of lesser-known participants into the personas of a handful of featured American and Soviet scientists. A list of suggested reading is included, and a complete list of sources consulted is available at Ottaviani's website. [End Page 34] Readers who were fascinated by Nick Abadzis's graphic novel Laika (BCCB 10/07) will applaud this continuation of the real-life space drama.

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