The Spacesuit by Alison Donald & Ariel Landy

The Spacesuit takes a fascinating look at the team who designed the very first spacesuit. We’ve watched videos of the moon landing and seen pictures but we’ve never thought about how spacesuits are made or who designed them. We found it really interesting learning about Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Foraker and her team of seamstresses who played an important role in the first moon walk.

The Story: As a child Ellie loved to sew and as an adult she got a job making underwear. Her attention to detail was noticed by an engineer who asked if she would like to sew spacesuits. Ellie’s team competed against military designers and engineers and their spacesuit withstood vigorous testing. But their hard work and dedication paid off and it was the suits that they made that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong wore for their moonwalk.

Ellie’s team were constantly challenged as they created their spacesuit. The suit was made of many soft layers but as more were added it became difficult to sew. The seamstress’s jobs became easier with the introduction of Sweet Sue and Big Moe but the women were exhausted and a last minute problem added to their stress.

Ellie and her team are inspirational female role models, they worked hard despite the fact that they weren’t expected to win. When they made mistakes they went back to the drawing board and started from the beginning – they were truly dedicated to their work and showed a huge determination to succeed.

Ariel Landy’s fabulous illustrations have a retro feel and we love her portrayals of 60s fashions and technology, the old fashioned television set was a big talking point here! The illustrations provide a visual timeline of the development of the spacesuits and also add extra information through labelled sketches.

Interspersed throughout the story are text boxes including facts about the company that Ellie worked for (Playtex) and other technical information. The endpapers are full of facts about spacesuits and a glossary at the end of the book explains some of the vocabulary that has been used in the story.

The Spacesuit takes an original look at an important world event in a way that children will easily understand and would be a great book to include in a class topic on Space or even a more general topic about inventors. It could also be included in a discussion about women who have made history.

Age Range: 3 +

Author: Alison Donald / Illustrator: Ariel Landy

Thank you to Maverick Publishing for sending a copy of this fabulous book, it was really interesting learning about Ellie and her team.

14 thoughts on “The Spacesuit by Alison Donald & Ariel Landy

    • It’s really interesting, I had never even thought of how spacesuits were made in the 1960s. It would be interesting to know how they are made now 🙂

      • I read some VERY interesting stuff about spacesuits a few months back when the plan to have the first spacewalk by two female astronauts had to be changed because there weren’t spacesuits available in the right sizes for both of them to go out at once–people were saying, “That’s a dumb excuse!” and someone who understood the situation wrote a Facebook post explaining that the correct fit of a spacesuit is extremely crucial and that there are very few spacesuits available because they are crazy expensive and made by hand; I think she said NASA has fewer than 20 spacesuits and almost all the spacesuits they ever made are still in use?? (Unfortunately I can’t find the article now…)

        I’m excited to know that there’s a book about this on my kindergartner’s level! We’ll look for it in our library.

  1. I love the idea of looking at the unknown behind the scenes sewers who made the spacesuits. I would never have even considered how it was made. #MMBC

  2. I LOVE the sound of this. I’d never thought about where a spacesuit might have come from and it’s great to read that something so historic was created by an inspirational team of women.

  3. I read another review of this book last week and I’m really taken with how inspirational it is. I just never thought about how a spacesuit was created before.

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