Based on a true story, The Spacesuit has a well-structured and informative story and extraordinarily appealing pictures. There is a strong chance this will become a dateless classic.
From a young age Ellie loved to sew. She loved designing things with fabric so, when she grew up, it was logical to take a job making bras and cloth nappies. The company Ellie worked for was called ILC Dover (she worked in a division called ‘Playtex’) and they decided to enter the competition to make a spacesuit for the first moon landing. For six weeks Ellie and a team of seamstresses worked day and night to create the perfect suit. No one thought they would succeed, especially because they decided to make a very different type of spacesuit – one that was soft and flexible but with lots of layers. But Ellie, her team and the engineers at ILC Dover made a suit that also made history.
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk in 1969, The Spacesuit is a fascinating insight into the true story of the design of the suit worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Presented as a picture book, it’s perfect for young readers but equally fascinating for adults. For example, did you know that it wasn’t unusual for the undergarment industry to try new things? Apparently, in World War One they designed flight suits for pilots.
I liked the way the book opens with Ellie as a child enabling younger readers to more easily identify with our main character. I was also impressed by the clever storytelling (including references to how Ellie’s sewing launched her into another universe) and the use of separate text bubbles to provide intriguing facts.
The story is complemented by excellent and imaginative pictures that have a nostalgic feel while still being modern and incredibly appealing. I particularly liked the use of lighting in the darker pictures (the first page being a good example) and the ingenious line drawings such as the planet that looks like a safety pin and button.
There’s quite a lot to take in but that is one of the many strengths of this book. It will easily stand re-reading many, many times. Indeed, I fully expect this to become a firm favourite with children and adults as well as a useful classroom resource. With a well-structured and informative story and beautiful pictures, there is a strong chance this will become a dateless classic.