By Edward Nawotka
The books of Czech illustrator and artist Miroslav Sasek’s were beloved favorites of children and parents alike throughout the 1960s and 70s. He is best known for his This Is series of travel books, which he started publishing in 1959 with This is Paris and ended in 1974 with This is Historic Britain. The playful, colorful illustrations were a perfect compliment to his subject, capturing the wide-eyed wonder of travel, that sense of fascination one feels on seeing a new place for the first time (something that is itself akin to the experience of childhood). Among the more unusual and difficult-to-find titles in the series is 1963’s This is Cape Canaveral, which documented the Florida launch site for the rockets of the United States space program.
The book has a curious history, for in the same year after it was published John F. Kennedy was assassinated, prompting NASA to rename its Florida site Cape Kennedy — prompting an immediate renaming of the book. Now, in 2009, the Universe division of Rizzoli has reissued the book, once again renamed it — this time changing it to This is the Way to the Moon.
The new book is a facsimile edition of the original title. Of course, when Sasek first published his work on the US space program, the mission to the moon was only just beginning. The new edition has been updated with new facts and additional pages about the moon landing in 1969 and recent NASA history. I must say, it’s one of the most charming children’s books I’ve run across in years. Fortunately for fans of Sasek, Universe has been slowly reissuing most of the This is series. Take note: they make wonderful gifts for any curious child.
VIEW: Images from the book.
READ: more about Sasek’s life and work.