Today I just finished reading One Small Step by PB Kerr. Kerr has written The Children of the Lamp books as well as some others, but I am not familiar with much of his work. The synopsis I read about this book was appealing because I thought it was a historical fiction book set in the 1960s covering the space race. Well, it is set in the 1960s and it does cover the space race, but the book is also a bit fantastical.
Scott, the protagonist, is sought after by NASA after he makes an emergency landing with an airplane he and his father are flying. NASA has a secret mission it is working on using chimpanzees to make the first trip to the moon. When one of the chimps is dismissed due to behavior issues, Soctt looks to be a good substitute. This sounds too good to be true to Scott, which it is. NASA is sending Scott and the chimps into space, but erasing any record of this so that no one else will ever know about it. The journey is risky, as it to be expected, and of course, there is a lot of drama and suspense thrown in to keep readers hooked. There were times I really enjoyed this book, and there were also times that I wanted the action to speed up. I absolutely love historical fiction books, but I had a hard time deciding about a few things that occurred- whether or not they were made up for the storyline, or were they legitimate facts. I don't have a lot of knowledge about NASA so perhaps there were things written that are facts that I am not catching. I can almost guarantee a child who reads this wont' be able to tell the difference, either.
I was in seventh grade when the space shuttle Challenger exploded with Christa McAuliffe on board. I still can recall with great detail the news surrounding this tragedy. I also recall President Reagan speaking at the astronaut's funeral quoting from High Flight written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., "...have slipped the surly bonds of earth..." "...and touched the face of God." This poem is included at the end of One Small Step and is Scott's final thought about his brief moon landing, "I think back to the time when I trespassed on the sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God."