The Moon Over Star

by Dianna Hutts Aston

Other authorsJerry Pinkney (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2008

Call number



Dial Books (2008), Edition: 1ST, 32 pages


On her family's farm in the town of Star, eight-year-old Mae eagerly follows the progress of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and moon landing and dreams that she might one day be an astronaut, too.

User reviews

LibraryThing member limeminearia
In 1969 Mae is eight years old and she’s very excited about the Apollo 11 space mission. At church they pray for the astronauts. After she and her cousins get ready for a special dinner at her Gran’s then build a rocket ship of their own. When Gran calls “Come quick, they’re landing!”
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Gramps is the only one who doesn’t come running: “Gramps kept right on tinkering with the engine.” Mae already knows her grandfather thinks space exploration is a waste of money. But not until he misses the excitement that catches not just the kids but all of the other adults, does Mae start to think about why. She sees how tired he is and how hard he works. Later as the family stargazes and eats popcorn Gramps joins them and Mae thinks “What I could see above me and what I could see in my imagination, were better than any picture show.” But still later the same evening Mae’s watches the moon landing and is amazed. She feels a hand on her shoulder and her Gramps says “I reckon that’s something to remember.” Although on the surface the story is about Mae’s experience of the moon landing, the underlying meaning is about dreams. At first Mae can’t understand why her Gramps is so disinterested in what’s happening. But her realization, possibly one of the first thoughts like it that she’s had, that Gramps is who he is and cares about what he cares about because the circumstances of his life have been harder than hers, is the heart of the story. The second realization, this time from Gramps, that Mae can dream of and do things that he never would have imagined for himself and he’s excited for her, is what pulls the story together. The art by Jerry Pinkney switches between crisp images of space and soft-focus scenes from the town of star where Mae lives. Pinkney has won the Coretta Scott King and Caldecott awards and. honors a combined total of fifteen times. His work here is fine but lacks some of the contrast and clarity that typify his best work. The writing is forced at times. Mae doesn’t seem to think like a child and there is a sappy element to having everyone gain such clear understandings of each other at the exact moment of such an iconic cultural moment. Unlike in Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack, Pinkney does not have quite as crisp a prose style or as unique a narrative voice to play off of.

What I like about this book and think makes it useful to teachers and librarians is its view of a historic moment from the perspective of a young African-American girl. Particularly in schools and libraries where many of the students are African-American I think it’s important to use teaching materials that feature Black characters experiencing historic moments other than the civil rights movement and slavery. As librarians we need to be aware when making displays or compiling booklists that we send messages by, however unintentionally, excluding such images, even if the subject of the display is seemingly unrelated to race. It may mean taking time to seek out additional reviews, publishers or resources, but it’s important to give all children a sense that the history of our nation does not belong to just one ethnic group. Pressure from librarians and professionals has been a factor in the recent diversification of topics and approaches in fiction featuring African-American kids. Genre fiction, which is wildly popular with young readers, is finally starting to have a more varied cast of characters and target audience. The best resource I’ve found for staying informed about these issues and learning about “books that are written by African American authors or contain a majority of African American characters.” Is the group blog The Brown Bookshelf’s The Brown Bookshelf Library. This group of six authors, who write in different genres and for different ages, have organized a great list to keep authors, educators and librarians at the forefront of creating greater visibility for Black characters and authors in children's literature. It’s important that librarians read and discuss books like this to clarify where we stand as advocates for a literary world that doesn’t make kids choose between identity and content so much of the time.

Aston, Dianna Hutts. The Moon Over Star. Illus. Pinkney, Jerry. New York: Dial, 2008.

"The Brown Bookshelf Library." The Brown Bookshelf. 15 Feb 2010. Web. 15 Feb 2010.
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LibraryThing member brittgeorge
The Moon Over Star is a historical fiction book narrated by a little girl watching the moon-landing. It takes a piece of history, and puts it in the perspective of a little girl's dreams and questionings. The illustrations are fantastic and really help the reader to envision the feeling the author
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is trying to create.
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LibraryThing member shannanjones79
My favorite part of this book was the beautiful, emotional illustrations, they were so moving and full of life. This story follows an adolecent girl who wants to be an astronaut. Her dreams unfolds as the days right before the first walk on the moon is about to occur. By the end of the book she has
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her grandfather believing that dreams can happen if you wish hard enough.
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LibraryThing member conuly
Further back than my memories go, there have ALWAYS been footprints on the moon. They were there more than a decade before I was born, so I always sorta took this for granted. There have ALWAYS, to my mind, been footprints on the moon (even though I know there haven't), and there have ALWAYS been
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space shuttles (even though I know there weren't) and there have ALWAYS been astronauts and so on.

For my young nieces, we have ALWAYS known about extra-solar planets (some of which are earth-like!), and we have ALWAYS had a camera on Mars, and Pluto has ALWAYS been something OTHER than a planet. We've always had cell phones and GPS and satellite TV, for that matter, as far as they're concerned.

It's hard enough for anybody born after the moon landings, I think, to really *feel* what a big thing that was. How quickly it became history, just another obvious fact that everybody knows!

This book does a good job of encapsulating the wonder and amazement that I imagine must have been all around for everybody (well, almost everybody) at the time. Space. It was different then, I guess.
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LibraryThing member pumabeth
~ An inspirational voyage to the hope in the heart of a young African American girl who observes the first moon landing with her family as they watch the event on television ~
The cross-generational sharing between the girl and her grandfather touches the hope within us all as she aspires to be an
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astronaut one day.

The full-page illustrations capture the awe of the time period, and some of the poetic prose stirs wonder for the stellar landscape. Details like “pearly slice of moon” and “stars, gleaming like spilled sugar” encourage the reader to dream.

Themes: dreams, wonder, understanding, hope
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LibraryThing member NMkimdykstra
Personal Response:

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I loved the little girl's enthusiasm about the moon landing. That is exactly how I would have been had I been around then. On the other, it was really refreshing to see the grandfather's resistance to the event, and think about that alternate
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Library/Classroom Uses:

I think this would be a great book for a classroom teacher to read to his or her students when doing a science unit on the solar system/moon. It would also be a great addition to a history unit regarding to moon landing/1960s, etc. I think you could use this story as a jumping off point for a writing prompt for middle school students.
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LibraryThing member mrcmyoung
A young girl is inspired by the moon landing in 1969. A gentle reminder of how incredible the event was and how far we've come.
LibraryThing member dpiacun
Where were you when a man walked on the moon? This is a story about some children excitingly watching the space shuttle fly to the Moon. Pinkney’s art flows along with Aston’s text in the story. You see the children’s excitement and desire to one day go to the Moon too.
LibraryThing member amoore1
The Moon Over Star is about an African-American farm girl who shares the experience of seeing the first man land on the moon with her family. Her grandpa does not think sending a man to the moon is very important, but he does encourage his granddaughter's dreams. She thinks that she may want to
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become an astronaut. In a lesson plan I could ask each student to write about what career he or she would be interested in and what inspires each student to desire that career.
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LibraryThing member jessicaschmidt917
It’s July 20, 1969, in this Coretta Scott King Award Honor picture book, and Mae and her African American multigenerational family are about to watch the first man walk on the moon. Mae thinks about this moment all day-- she prays for the astronauts and their children in church that morning,
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builds a spaceship from barn scraps with her cousins, and then watches the Walter Cronkite broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps and words. Grandpa isn’t as excited as Mae is though, and when she talks to him, he explains that as a farmer, he’s never had even a glimmer of a chance to go to the moon-- but that she should keep dreaming. Pinkney’s soft watercolor paintings of the moon and Mae’s life on earth coordinate with the poetic text to create a dreamlike quality. Themes of hope, change, and dreams for the future run throughout. Though a work of fiction, this is an excellent introduction to the various cultural changes in the U.S. in the 1960’s. Recommended for grades 1-3.
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LibraryThing member bhellmay
I really like the pictures of the book - they look like having been painted with watercolors. Very often they seem blurry. Although there is a variety of paintings, in some pictures people appear. These are painted with accuracy. Especially, the faces, which express a lot - like the deep lines in
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Gramps face. Furthermore, the story of the book is nice. Characters of the book are afro-american, which is very good in my opinion.
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LibraryThing member sabrina89
A great book to remember that great leap for mankind: the first landing on the moon. A little girl is waiting excitedly to watch the news on the day of Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon. She is so fascinated that her greatest wish is to go to the moon too. A great book about children's dreams;
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impressive pictures reinforce that event.
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LibraryThing member petajaye
Dianna Hutts Aston has written a charming story that features the Apollo 11 moon landing and how it impacted one family and one child's ability to dream. The story is poignant in the way it captures the great historic event and its impact on at least one African American family. In addition it
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shared with us the moving relationship between grandfather and grandchild, old and new and the meaning of the moon landing for each one of them. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic and partner well with the text.
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LibraryThing member epalaz
In this book, the children used their imagination of being astronauts flying in a spaceship. Although they may not have understood the history that was taking place, they were intrigued and wanted to relive it. As is the curious nature of children. The illustrations were done in graphite, ink and
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warcolors. It was done through a child's eyes and was a little rough, but clear enough to understand the difference in people and things.
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LibraryThing member knhayes430
This story is told from the point of view of a young girl who follows the space mission to the moon in 1969. This book not only details that historical moment, but also details a day in the life of a family who watched the moon landing on television and how it inspired them to dream.
LibraryThing member DiamondDog
On a warm summer's day in 1969, crickets chirp in the long buffalo grass and it feels like the whole world is bubbling with anticipation. Mae and her family await the first moon landing which brings with it the opportunity for hopes and dreams to be explored and realized. Diane Hutts Aston recounts
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mans first steps on the moon through the eyes of a young girl. The story is told with heart and feeling. This quiet historical story is coupled with lively and moving, yet tender, illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
One summer day, in 1969, a young girl named Mae, together with her extended family, gathered to celebrate a momentous occasion in human history: the landing of three astronauts on the moon. Praying for the safety of those far-off voyagers in church, acting out their adventures with a home-made
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shuttle of their own, watching Walter Cronkite's broadcast on television, Mae and her family were moved and inspired by the events of this extraordinary day. All of them, (or so it seemed) but Mae's Gramps...

I found myself unexpectedly moved by the conclusion of The Moon Over Star, a fictional examination of the famous lunar landing by Dianna Hutts Aston, whose non-fiction picture-books, like An Egg Is Quiet and A Seed Is Sleepy, have been such hits with me. The pencil, ink and watercolor illustrations by Jerry Pinkney were absolutely gorgeous, of course, but the narrative took a little while to win me over. I just didn't feel that involved in the story, at the beginning. But by the end, I was convinced that Aston had done something pretty remarkable: perfectly capturing the wonder of that day, for young Mae (perhaps named in honor of Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman astronaut?), while also ably depicting the bittersweet nature of such celebratory moments, for those whose dreams may have remained unfulfilled.

I liked the fact that the author didn't feel the need to beat us over the head with anything. Gramps didn't feel as enthusiastic as the rest of the family, and while we can intuit that this was owing to the hardships of his life, and possibly an inability to follow some of his own dreams (the passing reference to the magical experience of seeing airplanes for the first time), in the end, the focus is on the love between grandparent and grandchild, and their mutual acceptance of the other's emotional response to the day. Just a lovely little book, really - and one I might not have picked up, had it not been one of our November selections in The Picture-Book Club to which I belong.
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LibraryThing member ycinto1
This books tells the experience of the moon landing from he perspective of a young African American girl. The book tells how she and everyone in her family was very excited , except for Grandpa. The end of he book focuses on the young girl having a sort of insight into her grandfather's
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life. She suddenly realizes Grandpa might of had dreams that never came true and that life has worn him out. The books ends with a conversation between Mae and er grandfather. She tells him she want's to be an astronaut. He advises her to keep dreaming but always appreciate what you already have.

I gave this book it's high rating because i think the author does a wonderful job of making the character's absolutely real. The children playing space ship after watching the spaceship launch for example. That is exactly what children would do. Every day activities in the story seamlessly blend in with a once in a lifetime event.
The story really does seem like it could be exactly what happened which i think is a wonderful accomplishment in the genre the author is writing in. Lastly the author does a wonderful job of introducing the theme of unachieved dreams with the Grandfather. It is a very complex theme but in the book it is well integrated.
Over all i think this is a great book. The characters are really consistent and real. The setting is interesting and the story line believable.
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LibraryThing member Sluper1
I loved this book from beginning to end. First, I like how the young girl after watching the 1969 moon landing with her family is inspired to become an astronaut herself. She was eager to learn more and more about this event. She will discuss with his grandfather the possibilities of becoming an
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astronaut. She was eager to grow up and be part of the NASA. She was the only girl in town that knew the distance from the Earth to the moon. One of her friends asked her, “How do you know that?” She replied, “I read it in the newspaper” This event spark her curiosity. Moon Over Star is emotional, inspirational and hopeful picture book that will inspire reader to pursue their dreams.
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LibraryThing member athena.j
The genre of this book is realistic fiction. Mae, a girl growing up in the 60s is ecstatic to follow the moon landing in space, and pretends to be astronauts with her cousins. Everyone is excited when Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, except her grandfather, who thinks that the money should be used
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to help people in need instead. When Mae reveals her desire to become an astronaut, her grandfather supports her desires and tells her to keep dreaming.
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LibraryThing member jmistret
The setting of this book starts out in church. The narrator is a little girl named Mae who is very excited for the astronauts and their spaceship to land on the moon. She prays in church and asks God to "please bless the astronauts and their children too." She dreams of one day being able to make
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it to the moon, however, her grandpa thinks that the space program is a waste of money. As the book goes on, the setting changes to the girls home where she and her everyone in her family, with the exception of Gramps, watched man land on the moon. Mae seems to struggle with trying to figure out why her grandpa is nowhere near as excited as her. I am unsure of if she ever truly gets her answer but she eventually excepts how he feels. Gramps always looked to the moon to figure out when to harvest and plant. Now, Mae looks to the moon and sees all of her dreams coming true. The main setting of this book is in 1969 when man was able to land on the moon. The three astronauts that are mentioned are Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins. This setting effected the story and gave it a sense of truth.
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
This is a very good book about the moon landing. Told lyrically, it illuminates the experience of watching the moon landing in 1969. It captures not only the excitement, but also the division that existed over the value of the moon landing. The grandfather in the story offers a alternate
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perspective on the issue. It's well done.
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LibraryThing member rgraf1
This picture book tells the story how a little girl called Mae witnesses the first moon landing on July 20, 1969. The whole family (except for Gramps) is very excited about this event, in the church they pray for the astronauts, the children play in the garden and simulate the moon landing and
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everyone watches the big event together on TV. "The Moon over Star" is a wonderfully illustrated book about a memorable moment in history.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
A beautiful story of a young girl's thoughts about the miracle of space travel and the navigation of the spaceship The Eagle.
It was July 20, 1969 and Mae is very much inspired by Neil Armstrong and his first step on the moon. She and neighborhood children pulled together odds and ends and built a
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make-believe space ship.

This book brought back memories watching this occurrence at the local drug store. The moment was somber. It was quiet as we were fixed to the tv and the miracle of space travel.

President John F. Kennedy vowed to make America the first in making space travel possible. Sadly, he was not alive to see Neil Armstrong place his foot on the surface of the moon. Neither was he alive to hear the voice of Walter Cronkite emotionally stating

"Neil Armstrong, thirty-eight year old American, standing on the surface of the moon, on this July twentieth, nineteen hundred and sixty-nine."

And then, 600 million people were transfixed to the tv, hearing the voice of Neil Armstrong saying:

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

There would be other journeys into space, one with tragic consequences during the launch, another when men died inside the spaceship during routine testing. The others though, were miraculously launched successfully and American citizens were glued to their TV to watch additional flights of success.

But, none could take the place of Neil Armstrong's voice as his boot made contact with the surface of the moon.
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