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One Small Step

Review

One Small Step

In 1968, Scott MacLeod learns his parents are splitting up, with his father remaining in Texas and his mother moving to Florida. At first he attempts to live with his mom, but that doesn’t last long. As he returns to Texas to stay with his dad, he hopes that his mom will miss him so much that she’ll want to come back as well.  

Mr. MacLeod is a jet flight instructor in the Air Force. Flying is his life. It’s natural for a father to share his life with his son. So he begins teaching Scott how to fly. They start out in his Cessna two-seater airplane, and Scott quickly picks up on steering, braking, safety checks, instrument reading, navigating, take-offs and landings. Mr. MacLeod declares his son a natural, and Scott discovers a love of flying. 

Even though it’s against the rules, Mr. MacLeod begins taking Scott up in the Air Force jets and teaches him how to fly. Then a horrid accident occurs. They nearly die, but Scott’s talent and training save the day…and attract the attentions of NASA. It turns out that NASA has a secret mission in the works: using chimps to test the moon landing before risking the actual trip with human astronauts. However, for some reason, one of the chimps stops cooperating. NASA desperately needs a replacement, and fast. 

For Scott, the next four months involve unending hours in the classroom, embarrassing physicals with pokes and prods into every part of his body, no privacy, and an exhaustive training schedule. To top it all off, he won’t ever be able to tell anyone about the mission; his part in all of this will never be shared with the world. And he must lie to his mom. But for Scott, it’s all worth it --- every single pain and embarrassment and fear. Then the countdown begins, and Scott blasts into space, rocketing toward the moon.

Children of the Lamp author P.B. Kerr brings to life an amazing journey involving history, space travel, suspense, humor, science and an opportunity lots of people would love to have. He cleverly weaves in tons of cool trivia --- including how fast rockets travel, how planes operate, how many miles lie between the earth and the moon --- all while capturing the reader’s attention in the fast-moving and exciting plot. And his sense of humor helps ease his audience over the more unattractive aspects of space travel: 

“Lots of guys throw up. Even on a spaceflight. Rusty Schweikart threw up on Apollo Nine. Twice. And I don’t expect he’ll be the last. Just don’t barf in your space suit. That’s what they say. There’s nowhere for it to go but back in, somehow.” “Sounds like good advice,” I said, dabbing at my mouth and trying to imagine the horror of being locked inside a helmet with a mouthful of vomit floating around like a cheesy liquid asteroid.

Kerr also brings a deeper, thoughtful tone to the story, with the character of Scott contemplating God, responsibility and man’s treatment of other species (“Working with chimpanzees you find lots of times when you feel less than good about your own species and the pain it sometimes inflicts on others.”). 

For anyone who has an interest in space or who longs for adventure, ONE SMALL STEP is the novel to read. It’s an amazing book!

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on June 3, 2008

One Small Step
by P. B. Kerr

  • Publication Date: May 19, 2009
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN-10: 1416942149
  • ISBN-13: 9781416942146