The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean

by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Sean Rubin.

In 1969, Alan became the fourth man and first artist on the moon. He took dozens of pictures, but none compared to what he saw through his artistic eyes. When he returned to Earth, he began to paint what he saw. Alan's paintings allowed humanity to experience what it truly felt like to walk on the moon. With back matter that includes photos of the NASA mission, images of Alan's paintings, and a timeline of lunar space travel, this is one adventure readers won't want to miss!


Booklist | Starred Review

★ Rubin’s accompanying illustrations are fantastic, created by graphite on board with frequent and skillful use of crosshatching, and digitally colored on wide pages. He takes some artistic license (especially with the somewhat fantastical cover), and explains that he was trying to convey feelings and impressions more than exact depictions, just as his subject did in his own paintings. … As the story of “the only artist ever to see the Moon up close,” this is a standout among titles that blend art and science, and it reflects the best aims of STEAM.

Kirkus | Starred Review

★ Inspiring fare for readers who, as the author puts it, dream of becoming “brave astronauts,” “great artists,” or both. - Kirkus (Starred Review)

More Praise for The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon:

The astronauts are friendly, relatable characters in Sean Rubin’s jewel-colored, crosshatched artwork, which smooths out narrative shifts with skillfully extended motifs, including aircraft that transform from model airplanes to Air Force fighters to the Apollo 12 rocket as the pages turn. And as in Bean’s paintings, a brilliant palette animates the scenes of space with vibrant, palpable energy. More than an account of a singular figure, Robbins’s notable biography is a beautiful reminder that science and art are a vital combination and, together, can create new understanding. - New York Times

Working in an approachable, cartoony art style, Rubin depicts Bean as a boy dreaming of learning to fly, then as a navy pilot and budding painter: “His flowers didn’t look exactly real, but he didn’t want them to. They were brighter and bolder than real ones.” Bean’s powerful experience of walking on the moon would inspire many of the expressionistic paintings he later created: “how stunning outer space looked through his eyes.” - Publishers Weekly

Of the many space books timed for the moon landing anniversary, The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean stands out for its luminescent illustrations and interdisciplinary appeal … Sean Rubin's (Bolivar) always lovely and lush renderings, which manage to be cartoony with a classic flair, will likely captivate aspiring explorers and artists. The true star is the moon itself; with each page turn, the orb changes colors--sometimes white or shades of gray, other times a spectrum of violets and blues. "The Moon didn't look exactly real, but Alan didn't want it to. The painting showed how stunning outer space looked through his eyes." Just as Bean's pieces tried to capture the wonder of his experience among the stars by using moon "dust from his spacesuit" and footprints from his "astronaut boots," Rubin's digital art has a multidimensional texture and an expansive, otherworldly feel. - Shelley Diaz, for Shelf Awareness

Dean Robbins’ picture book focuses on how artistic communication enhanced Alan Bean’s career as a space pioneer. Sean Rubin’s illustrations, with fine line hatching and subtle humor suggestive of S.D. Schindler, splash the lunar surface with pops of vivid color and add hues not to be found in deep space. - The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books