T-Minus: The Race to the Moon by Jim Ottaviani 
submitted by Lynette

This is a graphic novel written for teens, but should not be limited to this age group alone. T-Minus very beautifully sums up what led up to getting man not only into space, but onto the Moon itself.

As we all know there were two main players in the race to the Moon; the United States and Russia (then the Soviet Union). It is unfortunate that in school we arenít taught much about the Russian side of the race, we were just taught that there was a race, and the United States won. But, that is far from the whole truth. Hereís a bit of history; did you know the Russians made it to the Moon first? Yes, they got there first with the Luna 2 which was the first man-made object to reach the Moon Ė though Luna 2 was not designed to travel back home, it was essentially designed to crash into the Moon, and that is where it still lies today. Yes, we were the first to put a human on the Moon, but letís give credit where credit is due. Though I can rattle off some space trivia, Iíll tell you there was plenty of information in this that was new to me Ė and yes, I fact checked Ė Ottaviani did his homework!

The main characters in T-Minus are the scientists behind the programs of Apollo, Luna, and the flights that led up to it. The astronauts themselves take a backseat in this adventure, and put the focus on the many brilliant minds that made space travel possible. Ottaviani gives us an ample amount of names, dates, and trivia throughout the story. He uses skinny side panels that run the full length of the page with information on rocket and satellite launches, with which I was in love. He notes the major missions of both sides, even if they were failures. Too often in history we donít talk about the failures, even though they too have their importance. Learning through our failures is how we make improvements Ė and it isnít all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to science. This shows the blood, sweat, tears, and intense stress put on to employees at both NASA and the Soviet Space Program by politicians who were determined that their country would make it to the Moon first - no excuses.

T-Minus is beautiful in its clarity and simplicity of its illustrations. In no way do I feel like black and white illustrations take away from this. It added to the feeling of looking into the past; like watching black and white television, or looking at sepia toned photos. The line work is crisp, and easy to understand, with the added little bonus bits of information they squeeze into the spaces between panels. Ottaviani gives copious amounts of information without making it overwhelming. He provides ample amounts of reading suggestions at the end to further your independent study of space and the Moon, as well as a glossary of terms.

This is a great macro view of the Space Race for those who may already feel like they know everything, and for those who feel like they know nothing. Even space buffs who feel like they know it all will enjoy the story because it puts the facts into context Ė it shows the emotion and passion behind one of manís greatest engineering and scientific feats.

It is definitely teen and up, and I as a grown up enjoyed it thoroughly, but this could be read by much a younger advanced reader. My only hesitation for that is that they might be overwhelmed with all the extra bits of information Ottaviani gives. Honestly, for a non-fiction graphic novel, I cannot say enough wonderful things about this title!

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