Eight Days Gone

Eight Days Gone

  • 1695

By: Linda McReynolds / Illustrated by: Ryan O'Rourke

Three, two, one . . . Blast off!

It’s 1969. Crowds gather along roads and beaches near Kennedy Space Center. Apollo 11 sits on the launch pad, ready to blast into orbit. The world watches as Michael Collins, Edwin Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong set out on their mission to achieve the first lunar landing.

Eight Days Gone recounts Apollo 11’s historic eight-day journey to the moon and back. Young readers will learn the basics about the gear, equipment, and spaceship used by the astronauts, as well as the history of NASA’s moon mission. Told in rhyme, the book introduces readers to poetry in an accessible and interesting manner, while the subject matter makes this book a great supplement to American history and space science lessons. McReynolds’s narrative demonstrates how scientific exploration often leads to more research and inspires further discovery. Back matter includes a bibliography and author’s note with additional information about the mission and the crew’s return home.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Linda McReynolds, author

Linda McReynolds has published many poems in children’s magazines. Eight Days Gone is her first children's book. She lives in Montgomery, Illinois.

Read more about Linda.

Ryan O'Rourke, illustrator

Ryan O’Rourke illustrated One Big Rain. His illustrations have also appeared in galleries, newspapers, and magazines, including the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine. He lives in East Windsor, Connecticut.

Read more about Ryan.

Awards & Honors:

  • An NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
  • IRA Children's Book Award--Primary Nonficion Category
  • RIF 2012-2013 STEAM Multicultural Booklist

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

The momentous Apollo 11 mission unfolds in pictures and rhyming verse.

Eighteen two-page spreads illustrate the story, and McReynolds tells it in tight four-line verses using identical rhyme schemes, beginning with "Hundreds gather. / Hot July. / Spaceship ready- / set to fly." The rocket blasts into space, begins its orbit, and, after a uniform check, the lunar module disconnects and lands safely on the moon. The control room watches intently. Michael Collins stays with Columbia, "Waits, observing, / tracking trip." Neil Armstrong is the first to walk on the moon ("Armstrong makes his / one small step. / Giant leap from / years of prep"), and Buzz Aldrin? Well ... "Edwin Aldrin / hops around. / Boot prints left on / ashen ground." O'Rourke's richly detailed illustrations are done in oils, with black, white and many shades of gray predominating. They often resemble photographs, with the exception of the people, who look jarringly like Playskool figures. The story has often been written for children before, but never as comprehensively yet concisely for the very young. The rhyme scheme and flat perspectives, if not palette, recall Dan Yaccarino's splendid Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm Off to the Moon (1997). An author's note and bibliography extend the experience, though the books listed notably omit the many fine titles published recently on the subject.

Still, nifty.

Publishers Weekly

McReynolds, in her children’s book debut, offers a compact and rhythmic look at the first lunar landing 43 years out: "Launchpad countdown./ Smoke and flame./ Rumbling. Blasting./ Seizing fame." The same four-line rhyme scheme continues throughout, from liftoff and moonwalk to splashdown and celebratory parade. The brisk recounting sometimes requires prior knowledge (or at least a parental conversation or two) to fully appreciate its pared-down nature; e.g., most younger readers won’t know that the landing was made on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility, which the author alludes to with the line, "Desolation./ Silent. Dark./ Tranquil sea./ Barren. Stark." (McReynolds provides additional details about the moon landing in an author’s note, and a bibliography suggests print and online resources for children.) Rendered in oil, O’Rourke’s (One Big Rain) flat, clean-lined cartoons have a speckled, airbrushed quality and are reminiscent of some of the Golden Book illustrations of the Apollo 11 mission’s era. A spread of a half-Earth hanging in black space as a single astronaut on the moon gazes toward it is awe-inspiring. The book’s small trim size echoes the condensed, yet evocative account found within

School Library Journal

Vibrant poetry and dramatic artwork describe the 1969 Apollo 11 voyage. One- and two-syllable words drive the story from the launch to the lunar landing and the historic Moon walk, while crisp oil paintings take readers through the mission. The three astronauts are shown walking to the Florida launch site and waving before their epic journey. Each man gets his own spread, e.g., "Armstrong makes his/one small step./Giant leap/from years of prep." All three are shown in their victory parade. The bold, punchy text and vivid illustrations combine to make this a great candidate for storytime as well as exciting solo enjoyment.

NSTA Recommends

Rhyme, rhythm, and great illustrations make this description of Neil Armstrong's moon landing an ideal experience to share with preschool and kindergarten students. Four–line poems describe huge, double–page illustrations. It's hard to imagine a group of young, apprentice astronauts not "jumping out of their seats" as they share this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Book. "Rocket orbits. Engines fire. Toward the moon. Soaring higher."

Books that can introduce physical science ideas are rare at the early childhood level. The excitement of the moon landing as described in this share–aloud classic can easily lead to personal observations. "Let's go outside and see the moon!" or "Parents, please help your child draw the moon on this calendar." There are also several websites, including an interactive one created by the John F. Kennedy Library, that allows children to see animated simulations of each stage in the launch.


Download the Cover


ISBN: 978-1-58089-364-0

ISBN: 978-1-58089-365-7

E-book PDF
ISBN: 978-1-60734-448-3
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 5-8
Page count: 44
9 x 9

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Faces of the Moon
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Older Than the Stars