Camping On the Moon
There's a new Space Race. From SpaceX planning a mission to Mars to NASA's upcoming missions to the Moon, space travel is once again igniting the imagination! This educational/science fiction picture book explores a time in the not-too-distant future when lunar vacations are a reality.
Ages: 3-8 (or possible chapter book)
I love going camping. Making a campfire. Sleeping in a tent. Having adventures and just plain relaxing. But this camping trip was going to be pretty different, because my family was going…
Title Page: Camping on the Moon!
[Art Notes: Our narrator, Sally, is a spunky 7-year-old. Her brother Teddy is 4 or 5. This story takes place in the not-too-distant future. The visual aesthetic should have subtle clues as to this future setting, yet still be firmly grounded in today’s world.]
My mom and dad had been secretly planning the trip for months.
“Sally, Teddy…” my dad said one morning as he turned off the holo-screenmy little brother and I were watching. “You know how we were going to visit grandma and grandpa this weekend? Well, there’s been a slight change of plans…”
“We’re going camping on the MOON??” I exploded with excitement. “Woohooo!!!!”
Teddy on the other hand wasn’t having any of it. Even short space flights make his tummy hurt. But this wasn’t just a quick trip to another country like Japan or Australia. I’d dreamed of going to the Moon ever since I was little, and now, it was actually happening!
[Art Note: The family takes a monorail to the launch site.]
On our way to the launch pad, my dad told me that when he was a boy, they didn’t let kids go to space. Or even many grownups. Only a few brave astronauts. He and my mom even named me Sally after one of the bravest – Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
As the ground crew got us ready for our flight, Teddy tried on three different spacesuits before he found one he said felt right. He’s always such a troublemaker. But once the countdown began, even he smiled.
[Art Note: A rocket shoots into the sky!]
The trip to the Moon took almost 8 hours! But it could have been worse. My dad said that when astronauts first went to the Moon in the 1960s, it took four days to get there. FOUR DAYS! And they didn’t even have their favorite shows to watch!
It wasn’t long before Teddy started to complain that his tummy hurt (see, I told you he was a troublemaker). But by the time we got close enough to see the Moon, Teddy said the ground looked like a giant tub of gray ice cream, so I guess he was feeling better.
Our rocket landed with a jolt. I couldn’t believe it. We were on the Moon!
We arrived at Lunar Base Alpha,the very first Moon base. It was filled with people from all over the world (Earth, that is). Some were coming. Some were going. Some worked on the Moon, and some were there on vacation just like us. My mom loves taking photos of our adventures, and couldn’t put her new 3D cameradown for a second!
Once our gear was all loaded up into our special Moon car called a Lunar Rover, we began the short drive to our campsite. The Rover can drive itself, but my dad said driving on the Moon was something he always wanted to do. Dads are so weird.
[Art Note: From the Rover’s tracks we see Dad’s clearly taken the long way.]
At last, we made it to our campsite! As I stepped out of the Rover, I couldn’t believe how different it was from campsites back on Earth. I knew the Moon didn’t have any trees or animals. I had learned about that in school. But what I didn’t expect was that our campsite was totally quiet! No wind sounds. No footstep sounds. Nothing. Just the sound of our voices over the special walkie-talkies in our helmets called intercoms.
“Look at me!!!” Teddy yelled.
[Art Note: Teddy jumps over a small crater.]
I almost forgot the biggest difference of all! The Moon’s gravity is six-timesless than Earth, which basically means that anyone can jump super high! Even goofy little brothers!
While Teddy and my mom unpacked the Rover, I helped my dad set up our tent. At first, I thought there was some mistake. Our tent didn’t look like any tent I’d ever seen. It inflated like a balloon for one thing, and it had a special double door.
“Is that to keep out bugs?” I asked.
“There aren’t any bugs on the Moon,” my dad explained. “The tent’s sealed up tight so we can breath in it without having to wear spacesuits.”
Camping without any bugs? This campsite was getting better and better all the time!
“Now, who’s up for a hike?” my dad asked after we were all settled in.
“Me, me, me!!!” I said. Teddy, on the other hand, wanted to stay by the tent with and collect rocks. Shocker. My mom said she’d stay behind with Teddy while my dad and I went on a hike just the two of us. Yes!
Hiking on the Moon is so cool! Usually when we go hiking, I have a hard time keeping up, but because of the low gravity, I could walk (or should I say jump) ahead of my dad almost the entire way! Our GPStook us to the top of a large hill where we could see the Moon’s tallest mountain. My dad said it’s called Mons Huygensand is even taller than the highest mountain on Earth!
When my dad and I got back to our campsite, we found that Teddy had kept plenty busy.
“His name’s Rocky,” Teddy explained. "He’s a rock-man!”
I couldn’t get over how big he was! Teddy said that on the Moon, even the big rocks were super easy to pick up. It’s a good thing my mom brought hercamera!
[Art Note: Sally and Teddy pose with the rock-man (a 10-foot tall snowman made of rocks, possibly with a metal detector and antenna as his arms).
Soon, it was time for dinner. Camping back home, we usually cook hotdogs over a fire, but not this time.
“Since there isn’t any air on the Moon, a fire won’t burn,” my mom said. “Even if you bring your own wood.” So instead, she heated up frozen hotdogs using power from the Rover.
I missed having a fire, but at least my mom was able to warm up S’moresfor dessert! The marshmallows weren’t very crispy, but that didn’t stop Teddy from still eating three!
While we were washing up, my dad went outside to get something out of the Rover.
“Who’s up for a campfire?” he said when he returned.
“But mom said you can’t make a fire on the Moon,” I replied.
My dad had made a pretend campfireout of one of the Rover’s headlights! He’s so clever.
Teddy brought over a few rocks for us to sit on, and we all sang campfire songs through our intercoms until Teddy and I got tired. I pretended to fall asleep so my dad would carry me to our tent. Works every time!
“Goodnight, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” he whispered as he tucked me in.
I smiled. “There aren’t any bugs on the Moon.”
We camped two more nights. My brother ended up making an entire rock family, and I made a few new friends from the next campsite over – twins a few years older than me from South Africa. Soon, though, it was time to head back home.
As my dad returned the Rover, my mom took Teddy and me to the Lunar Base Alphagift shop where we were each allowed to get one souvenir. I got a model rocket. Teddy got a funny t-shirt. And then, just like that, our Moon adventure was over.
[Art Note: Teddy t-shirt says, “The Moon Rocks!”]
[Art Note: A rocket leaves the Moon’s orbit.]
About halfway home, I looked up from my holo-screenjust as Earth started to come into view through the window.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” my dad whispered.
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Months later, my family went on a camping trip next to a lake in the Canadian Rockies. I had woken up before everyone else (as I sometimes do), put on my slippers, and walked outside our tent. I could hear the water of a nearby creek and the hoo of an owl. It was quiet, but not ‘Moon quiet’. As I looked up, the Moon was still out from the night before.
Someday I would go back there, I thought. But for now, camping on Earth would have to do.
[Art Note: Sally smiles as she wistfully looks up at the faint Moon.]