Book Tour: Blast Off to the Moon

Publisher: UCLAN publishing

Pages: 40

About: From Imagination to Reality. Produced in association with BIS (British Interplanetary Society) and NASA.

Based on the original NASA Press Kit (Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission) this is full of exclusive never before seen content from the BIS archives. Including an introduction written by Helen Sherman, the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station!

Capturing the excitement of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, how it happened, why it happened, what the team discovered and what followed on Earth. This is an accessible book for children that will inspire and encourage a love of learning about science and space.

Euan Cook – Cover Illustration

Buy it from Waterstones

Q & A with Imogen Tomlinson, part of the UCLAN part of the team who developed this amazing title.

Which chapter/section was your favourite to work on?

‘What if things went wrong?’ was fascinating – macabre, I know, but it really brought home how much courage the astronauts had to take part in such a risky mission.

I also enjoyed writing ‘The World Holds its Breath’. This includes a transcription of the Mission Control audio from the Apollo 11 countdown, which we put in the book as we wanted the reader to experience the excitement of mission countdown. I listened to a lot of recordings between Mission Control and the Apollo 11 astronauts as part of my research – they are available on the NASA website. They provide a fascinating insight into the day-to-day running of the mission, and the respect and trust the crews on Earth and in space had for each other is evident. There are also frequent jokes between the crews. The lead up to Neil Armstrong’s famous “That’s one small step for [a] man” line is surprisingly casual!


How important was it to have Helen Sharman write the introduction? 

Massively so. As the first British person in space, Helen is a huge inspiration. Having her blessing on the project gave us – and future readers – the confidence to know that we were going in the right direction and creating a quality product. She also very kindly helped with fact checking – her first-hand knowledge of life in space was invaluable.


What would you hope a reader takes away with them when reading Blast Off to the Moon?

How risky and experimental the Apollo programme was. Despite the astronauts undergoing months of extensive training, the whole enterprise was essentially trial and error – no one knew for certain what would happen when – or if – they got to the Moon. The Space Race had already claimed several lives – from Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee (the Apollo 1 astronauts), to Soviet cosmonauts such as Vladimir Komarov. There was the very real possibility that Neil Armstrong, Buz Aldrin and Michael Collins would also be killed. Finding the contingency plan and speech (featured in the book) prepared for President Nixon in the event of a disaster really emphasised how dangerous the mission was. What must have gone through the astronaut’s heads in the days leading up to blast off? How did they explain to their children that they might never see them again? Their bravery and belief in the mission is clear and something to be admired.


What was the strangest or most interesting fact you have discovered during your research?

The Moon has lots of interesting facts! I did not realise, before working on the book, how important the Moon is to Earth’s functions. For instance, the Moon’s gravitational force is responsible for Earth’s tides and maintaining the stable environment needed for life.

I found a lot of interesting facts relating to Cold War politics, as this was the driving factor behind the Apollo programme, though we stayed away from discussing them in the book. For instance, the USA once planned to nuke the Moon in a display of power. Imagine how disastrous this would have been!


If you were going into space, what would want to have for your breakfast before having to live off onboard food?

Toasted hot cross buns with a fruit salad and a glass of Buck’s fizz to celebrate!


This book is something I’ve dipped in and out of multiple times over the last few weeks; from reading it for cover to cover, to returning to my favourite sections (the food, it’s always about food).

This will be one of those books that grows with a young reader. As a little one, it may just be those never before seen photos that capture their imagination but when they’re older the words will start to form meaning and shape their understanding of the satellite in our orbit.

The book is well structured and will be useful as a reference guide for STEM students or those who seek role models who blazed a trail for any of us wanting to reach for the stars.

Blog Tour Book Review: Monsters in the Mirror

Publisher: UCLan Publishing
Pages: 424
Release Date: 1.3.2019
About: Darwen Arkwright’s world is turned upside down when he is forced to move from a small English town to Atlanta in the United States of America. Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in at school, Darwen seeks solace in a mysterious shop full of mirrors. It’s there that he discovers the ability to step through mirrors in to different worlds – worlds beyond his wildest imagination. Darwen befriends creatures including Moth, a tiny being with mechanical wings, but he soon learns that there is a terrible darkness threatening this new world…and only he can save it.The problem with doors is that they open both ways. There are monsters inside, and some of them are trying to get out…

I fell in love with Dawen, his world and the story almost immediately and I couldn’t put it down. From the first page, you’re thrown into the story and it doesn’t let up until you close the book on the final page.

It holds a nostalgic magic that’s not only reminiscent of Snicket and Potter, but of one of my favourite childhood book series; the Shivers collection. They were an alternative to Point Horror and they were my go to. My favourite of them all was Madness at the Mall and Monsters in the Mirror really gave me such a throwback to it that I’ve been searching my bookshelves ever since.

Monsters in the Mirror would be an upgraded, movie quality version of those delightfully scary books of my childhood. With a chilling reminder of Return to Oz, I was hooked with both worlds presented and I really would love to see this being made into a TV progamme with 90s vibes. The worlds are artfully and passionately built that I dare people not to love them.

It’s a perfectly set out plot, that sees the protagonist develop relationships that have a fulfilling arc over the whole book while also laying a foundation for whatever comes next. Which, believe me, I’ll be here waiting for any news of an upcoming release date.

Its a story for all, but most of all… this could be the book series that gets parents recommending books to their children, digging out their old paperbacks and sharing them with a new generation of readers.