July 20th, 1969 was the first moonwalk. Fifty years later, we aren’t all hanging out there, but I recently enjoyed an imaginary tale that has students taking their own moonwalk in a (hopefully) not-too-distant future. Field Trip to the Moon is an inclusive, colorful story.
I have become very sensitive to gender and ethnic representation in books, especially those for children. In Field Trip to the Moon, John Hare has created a delightful picture book with a diverse cast of mostly gender-neutral characters so all children reading it can see themselves in the pages. This is a wordless tale that takes everyone on a space adventure to make new friends. The artwork is round and soft, but has bold color and depth.
The cover sets it up with a large yellow schoolbus-as-spaceship at dock while a teacher and students climb aboard. The students are all different shades of skin and hair color, and several fully in their spacesuit so they remain neutral in their gender, including the main character. The bus-ship takes off and lands on the moon, where the class bounces around exploring and learning from their teacher.
One student is an artist who brought their paper and crayons with them. Instead of participating with the class, this student sits in a crater drawing the earth in the sky. They fall asleep and miss the load up back to earth! The student is upset, but sits down and calms themselves by drawing a rainbow. At this point, the reader sees creatures (adorably shy), the same grey as the surface of the moon, slowly come out from behind a rock to check out this new creature on their home.
When the student finally notices, the aliens hide behind a rock, peeking out curiously. The student shows them their colorful picture. They become friends through art until the bus-ship comes back (assumingly very quickly) for the student. We see the teacher and student share a big hug of relief before loading back onto the bus-ship. There the student has only the grey crayon in their box, but happy because they left gifts of color to their new alien friends.
Field Trip to the Moon does a great job on letting all children see themselves in this friendly, outer space adventure. It’s imperative for children of all races, genders, and abilities to read stories about characters that share similar backgrounds as theirs.
“Representation can be incredibly inspirational… It enables people to envision possibilities for their own lives that previously seemed impossible. Representation helps marginalized people feel visible and illuminates cultures and ways of life that were previously unfamiliar. One of the most powerful forms of representation comes in books, beginning with children’s picture books, as images of all types of people and cultures activate the imagination and help foster respect for diversity and empathy for others. In this way, books and stories can make an enormous difference in dispelling stereotypes and prejudice and building community.”
– Excellence Baby Academy
Besides a wide swath of diversity in Field Trip to the Moon, it also has good gender representation as well. Although the length of hair is not the best way to divide boys and girls, the reader can assume there are four male and two female characters, plus eleven neutral characters including the aliens and the main character; it is a very inclusive book. Although the main character takes off their helmet at the end, it’s hard to tell if the kid is a girl or a boy (with big hair.) I love that.
I was also impressed with how John Hare conveyed emotion with no words and characters mostly in spacesuits and helmets. Field Trip to the Moon is an inspiring way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first moon walk. I highly recommend for ages 4 and up.
GeekMom received a copy for review purposes.