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Moon man

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While on a family vacation in the Appalachian Mountains when he was 6 years old, Buzz Aldrin began collecting rocks. He was fascinated by their smooth surfaces and delicate shades of natural color.

This youthful curiosity about nature was just the beginning of a lifetime of discoveries and adventures for the young New Jersey boy. But his greatest adventure of all would have to wait for another 33 years.

In July 1969, Buzz - now Colonel Aldrin - would find himself gathering rocks once more. This time, they were rocks that he and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong collected from the surface of the moon and carried some 240,000 miles on their four-day return journey to Earth for scientists to study.

Of course, that first mission to the moon in the Apollo 11 spacecraft was far more than just a rock-collecting field trip. Some half-billion people back on Earth watched the historic event on their black-and-white television sets as Aldrin and Armstrong pressed the first human footprints into the dusty lunar surface. It was a rare, uplifting moment for all of humanity to share.

It's that spirit of adventure and achievement that is captured in the pages of Buzz Aldrin's book for kids, "Reaching for the Moon" (HarperCollins).

Aldrin has written other books, including novels and works about his life as a pilot, scientist, and astronaut. But this is his first children's book.

"I wanted to take this historic moon landing and describe it in terms of an ordinary person doing something extraordinary so that kids might realize they can each have their own moons to reach for," says Aldrin.

He also says he is concerned that today's high-tech-savvy kids seem far more interested in conquering the computer-generated aliens of "virtual space" than exploring the mysteries of real space.

"It's my hope that this book will also reignite excitement [about] the space program," he says.

"Reaching for the Moon" is illustrated by artist Wendell Minor, who has illustrated more than 30 children's books. "I always wanted to do a book about space," says Mr. Minor, who works from his studio in Connecticut. "I grew up with the early space program and was mesmerized by the astronauts and their accomplishments. Kids [today] know so little about the history of space exploration and its true heroes."

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