Monday, December 19, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Racing The Moon by Alan Armstrong

About The Book: In the spring of 1947, outer space was an unexplored realm. But eleven year-old Alexis (Alex) Heart and her impulsive brother, Chuck, believe that the stars are within reach. In the midst of building their own rocket, Alex befriends Captain Ebbs, and an army scientist who is working to create food for future space travelers, and who is also a descendent of Captain John Smith. Alex soon introduces Chuck to her new friend, and the trio's shared interest in space travel sets off a series of adventures that the three will never forget. From meeting pioneering German rocket scientist Dr. Wenher von Braun, and a thrilling sailing trip down the Potomac to an island on the Chesapeake where a top secret rocket launch is about to take place, Alex and Chuck are about to have their lives forever changed.
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Source: Netgalley
First Line: Early Sunday morning, Alex headed up the hill.
One Great Line: "Tell yourself you're going and you will," he yelled as the car pulled away. "Boldly stated is half-done--that's my rule" -Dr. Wenher von Braun (81)
What I Thought: Armstrong has effectively juxtaposed Dr. Wenher von Braun, John Smith and Dr. Ebbs experiences against Alex and Chucks adventures illustrating the common traits of successful explorers and pioneers. Themes of following your dreams, looking outside the box and pushing through difficulty come through the narrative leaving the reader inspired to take their own risks to reach their dreams. Alex and Chuck learn some hard lessons about overcoming challenges and exploring new and different territory. While I think that this format works and I enjoyed the read I did wonder if some of the lessons were a bit heavy handed for middle grade readers. I could see how this would be a great tool for integrating fiction into a history and science curriculums.
The Cover:  Illustrator Tim Jessel Check out his portfolio here.

About The Author: Alan Armstrong
Publisher: Random House
Who: Alan Armstrong started volunteering in a friend's bookshop when he was eight. At 14, he was selling books at Brentano's. As an adult, every so often, he takes to the road in a VW bus named Zora to peddle used books. He is the editor of Forget Not Mee & My Garden, a collection of the letters of Peter Collinson, the 18th-century mercer and amateur botanist. He lives with his wife, Martha, a painter, in Massachusetts.
"I was sick a lot as a kid. I survived on stories. The best thing in the world was someone coming in to my room. I waited like a spider, book at the ready—something of the parents’ that one of my brothers might read aloud: Hornblower, Gone with the Wind.
I remember the rush when I realized I could read on my own. I wasn’t dependent any more: the world was mine! I walked home from school that afternoon saying to myself, “I can read! I CAN READ!” 

I looked down. I was floating." -Armstrong
When: "From about age ten, my dream was to make my own book. I wrote and wrote. I showed my efforts to a friend of my father’s. She read them. “Write about what you like,” she said. “We all know about the rest."
"I got a place on the college newspaper. The editor was a tall, pimply boy in ruined clothes who said the only thing that mattered was getting cleanly typed text in by the deadline. When I turned in my first piece, he shot it back with a note: “Write down   quotes. Listen for verbs. The story’s always in the verbs. Get the verbs down along with any odd words you hear, locutions. And questions. Readers like questions.” I rewrote that piece four times. My average now is forty." -Random House
Why: “What do I hope my readers get? Pleasure. And maybe something they didn’t know or feel before.” -Random House
What: Armstrong didn’t set out to write children’s books. He only wanted to write stories that appealed to him. His first novel, Whittington, was a 2005 Newbery Honor Book and it marked the beginning of a journey toward merging his interests. -Teachers at Random
How: "I carry a fold of paper and a ballpoint to scribble notes as things come to me. Ideas fly like birds; you have to catch them on the wing. I can't sit still for long, but everything added together on a good day I get in two hours in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, an hour at night." -Kidreads Interview
Writing Advice: "Make notes when a surprise comes by. Every story starts with two or three words --- catch them! Keep a journal. Be susceptible. If a book comes to your hand unbidden, look in it." 
-Kidreads Interview
Author Quotes: "Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The 
victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character." -Search Quotes

“In a world where we are forced to conform to society, it is necessary to have personal chaos” -Think

If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you. -- T. Alan Armstrong

Be sure to hop over to all the other MMGM bloggers listed in my sidebar! 
I want to wish you all the best at this wonderful time of year when we celebrate faith, family and the love. 

I'm off next week but will return on the 30th. In gratitude to those who have continued to follow me as I grow as a blogger and writer, I will be participating in the Give Away Hop sponsored by I'm A Reader Not A Writer.  If it weren't for you I'd wonder if this great experiment was worth the effort. Stop by for some great packages I'll be giving away!


  1. This is a great candidate for boys :D
    Thanks for the feature and see you on the 30th.

  2. Oh my gosh...this sounds so good and would appeal to young readers on so many levels! Thanks for sharing this one, Pam.

    p.s. LOVE the writing advice!!..!

  3. I have this one my list to read even though the cover is less than appealing. Also, I've awarded you a Versatile Blogger Award over at my blog. Come visit if you want to accept!


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