Balloon to the Moon


Fascinating from start to finish, ‘Balloon to the Moon: The Story of the Human Journey to Space’ is a beautifully presented exploration of how humans progressed from dreams of flying to walking on the moon itself.

The book opens with a timeline of key events which looks almost like a board game as it snakes across the page and points into the future. This gives a flavour of what is to come as the book is then organised in chapters which explore each stage of this journey from balloon flights to what might happen next. The contents page (entitled ‘Countdown’) goes from 10-1 . ‘Lift Off’ then looks at the launch of the Apollo 11, ‘Lunar Orbit’ the following Apollo missions and finally ‘Re-entry’ considers the outcome of these missions and what the future might hold.


The opening chapter looks at early balloon flights and the experiments of the Montgolfier brothers whose story forms the background to Emma Carroll’s wonderful book, ‘Sky Chasers’ (review here.) The next chapter explores early flight from the legend of Icarus to experiments in the 19th century. The hero of Geraldine McCaughrean’s ‘The Kite Rider’ performs strapped to a kite which would sit well alongside the information about the development of kites as flying vehicles in China whereas Laurence Anholt’s ‘Leonardo and the Flying Boy’ explores the story of Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter. The ballooning achievements of both men and women are celebrated before the next chapter looks at the first aircraft and early aviators using a mixture of comic strip and fact boxes.


In exploring rockets, the both the science and history behind their development are investigated before the book looks at animals and then people in space. Having introduced some early astronauts, the book looks at the training and equipment needed to become one.

The next few chapters focus on the moon missions, finishing with the success of Apollo 11 and its crew. However, the story does not stop there as later moon missions, what has been discovered and learned and the future of space travel are also considered. There is so much to discover in this book which is full of fascinating facts presented in a variety of different and appealing ways. The illustrations are wonderful, many reminiscent of the 3-D pictures that required the ‘space specs’ of the 50s and 60s. This is a brilliant resource for classes learning about space which will extend pupil knowledge beyond the requirements of the curriculum.

A thoroughly enjoyable, fact-packed look at the human journey to space, ‘Balloon to the Moon’ is a must for libraries, classrooms and homes.

Balloon to the Moon Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1787413542

Published 27th June 2019

Brilliant Bookshop: Stanfords, Bristol


In 1853, Edward Stanford became the sole owner of what became ‘the largest, and indeed only map maker and seller in London at a time when British colonialism, the rise of the railways and the continuing popularity of the Grand Tour, meant demand for readily accessible, high quality cartography was building at remarkable pace.’ In 1997, Bristol became home to its first store outside of London and it is still there today. And what a lovely shop it is!


Beautiful window displays set the scene tempt the passing reader inside. I loved this display for ‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria’ which is a great favourite of mine. Once inside, this attention to creative displays continues as the wall to the basement is covered in a huge map of Bristol. Colourful models of hot air balloons hang in front of this, a reminder of Bristol’s Balloon Festival.


Even their bags are adorned with maps of Bristol! Although Stanfords boasts of being the world’s largest travel and map store, it also has a very tempting children’s section which offers a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction for all ages in a spacious and attractive setting at the back of the shop. I needed a couple of their attractive carrier bags when I left to carry all my purchases with me!


They also have a rather lovely stationery section and after a very brief internal debate about whether I needed these or just wanted them, I convinced myself there were many good reasons for having these brilliant ‘storyteller’ pencils.

A bookshop with beautiful displays, a calm atmosphere and a wonderful selection of books- what more could you want! Well worth a visit!

The Same But Different Too


There are many similarities and many differences in this lovely book, each one acknowledged and celebrated as they should be. A whole host of wonderful animals and equally wonderful children compare and contrast the things they do, enjoy and are good at, making sense of their world as they share it with those around them. It is a truly delightful book full of gorgeous illustrations.


Simple rhyming sentences bounce along, making this a wonderful read aloud with plenty of opportunities for joining in and guessing the rhyming words.

I am listening.

You are too.

I love stories.

So do you.


The illustrations are just wonderful, celebrating the joys of diversity every bit as much as the text. My class were quick to spot the little boy in the wheelchair, for example, and be pleased to see a child like X (a child in another class) being shown in the story. There are so many little details to spot and enjoy- I love Mr Mole’s house! The last spread sums up the closeness and companionship felt by everyone in the story, no matter what their differences. I would love this as a picture on my wall- it makes me smile every time I see it!


Perfect for assemblies or story time, ‘The Same But Different Too’ would be wonderful for opening discussions about diversity. It could also be used to create some more rhyming sentences celebrating other similarities and differences, illustrated in the same vibrant, fun style.

A joyful celebration of the differences that make us unique and the similarities we share, ‘The Same But Different Too’ is a delightful, thought-provoking book for all to enjoy.

The Same But Different Too Karl Newson, illustrated by Kate Hindley

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004008