Information books designed for younger readers bringing text and imagery together are increasingly the norm – and the subject matter ever more wide-ranging and inventive. Here is one to celebrate. The Book of Bok takes the words of Neil Armstrong himself to tell the story of the creation of the Moon and then takes the reader on a swift passage through time to the present day. Armstrong imagines this from the point of view of Bok, the piece of lunar rock brought back to earth which was then presented to him. It is a vivid reimagining and Grahame Baker-Smith’s adaptation of Armstrong’s speech retains all the immediacy that would have come from the original. But the words do not act alone. There are the illustrations to make the reimagining real bringing the text to life. Baker-Smith excels at creating a sense of the immensity of space, the drama of a planetary collision, the turbulence that formed the moon – and then the unfolding history of earth portrayed concisely but effectively; the effect is immersive. Saturated colours and dynamic images fill each double page spread picking up and developing the concise accessible text that is neither bland nor uninteresting. The end papers frame the whole reminding us of the vast cold spaces that Armstrong and his companions experienced while on the title page itself we meet Bok – a piece of rock pitted a scarred – but are those eyes? Then finally there is a section that presents the facts more prosaically perhaps, providing a satisfying grounding for those who want to know more.
This is a picture book to excite a young mind, opening the door to the fantastic wonder that is space, the concept of time, sowing the seed for curiosity without denying the power of the imagination. Highly recommended.