THE ASTRONAUT WHO PAINTED THE MOON: The True Story of Alan Bean, by Dean Robbins and Sean Rubin, Orchard Books, May 28, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a real-life astronaut — one of just 12 who have walked on the moon. My interview with Alan Bean is one of the highlights during my time as a newspaper book critic.
The interview was in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, and the Apollo 12 astronaut was excited to share his experience. Walking on the moon, he noted, was much the same as his simulator training on Earth. But the views, he said, were awe inspiring — “looking out the window, it was a whole new dimension.”
Bean worked for NASA as commander of Skylab II and the head of the Astronaut Candidate Operation and Training Group until 1981, but he never forgot about his trip to the moon.
For years, Alan’s friends had asked him about his experience, but he couldn’t quite express it in words. So Alan turned to art instead. “I’m the only person that knows all this stuff, all these stories,” Bean told me in 2009. “That’s the reason I left NASA. I was training to be the shuttle commander. I loved being an astronaut. … But I’m the only one of the 12 people who’ve walked on the moon that wants to tell these stories in a fine arts way.”
Bean died in 2018. He was 86.
The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon, by Dean Robbins and Sean Rubin, tells Bean’s story through concise text and bold illustrations. Back matter that includes photos of the NASA mission, images of Alan’s paintings and a timeline of lunar space travel complete the package.
The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon is a fantastic look at one of the men who changed our view of the moon forever.
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