I remember a children's novel that I read in the late 1970s / early 1980s about three children travelling to the Moon. There were some illustrations; I think the colour scheme of those was black, white, orange, and purple.

Three children (an older boy, an older girl, and a younger girl, probably siblings? plus a dog?) are playing let's pretend in their back yard. They build a spaceship from cardboard boxes and a bucket. They intend to name the spaceship "Moonbeam", but the younger girl misspells it as "Moonbeem" when she paints the name.

Overnight, a wizard who needs a real spaceship transforms the children's pretend spaceship into a real one, but forgets to change it back when he has finished with it.

The children discover the now real spaceship the next morning, and decide to travel to the moon. The older boy is piloting the spaceship, and at first, he has difficulty controlling it and flies under London's Tower Bridge.

After they land on the Moon, the younger girl has difficulty putting her spacesuit on and needs help. On the surface of the moon, the children rescue a Martian who has suffered a spacesuit puncture.

On returning to Earth, they use Tower Bridge as a landmark to find their house, and the older girl reminds the older boy not to fly under it this time.

Does anyone remember the title and author of this?

  • Are any of the answers here correct? If so, it would be helpful for site housekeeping if you could "accept" a correct answer (by clicking the checkmark on the left) so that we know for sure what story you were looking for.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 7 at 9:28

5 Answers 5


The snippet view of Google Books indicates that "Top Secret: The First Flight to the Moon", 1960, by David Young, contains the sentence "Then Hilary picked up a piece of chalk and wrote on the side of the spaceship the name Moonbeem", which seems relatively strong evidence.

  • Yes, that's it! Searched that book for another unusual word that I just remembered - "oodly" which was in a nonsense song that the younger girl sang while they were returning to Earth, and that turned up too. Commented Jul 8 at 8:43

Rusty's Space Ship– 1957 by Evelyn Sibley Lampman (Author), Bernard Krigstein (Illustrator).

The story as I recall it is a boy and girl (Susan and Rusty) build a "spaceship" named the Terra Terror I out of junk. Somehow a metal sheet nailed to the front turns out to be from a real spaceship. Tiphia, a lizard-like alien shows up and turns the pretend spaceship into a real one. He gives them pills that allow them to go without breathing, but they have to put clothes pins on their nostrils to prevent them from trying to breathe, something which initially causes difficulties for Cookie, Rusty's dog. Their first destination is Earth's moon, but there is no detour through London. Their eventual destination is Eopee, where Tiphia's leader, Gwump, resides.

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange! I added a link to your answer, since you already mentioned finding it on Amazon.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 0:26
  • archive.org/details/rustysspaceship00lamp is the archive.org copy, currently available for checking out (although they are in the midst of a court case)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 16:50

Sound similar to "Wonderful Flight To the Mushroom Planet", but that had two boys and their chicken.

When two boys find an ad in a newspaper asking for two young boys to build a spaceship, they quickly construct one out of old tin and scrap wood, and bring it to the advertiser. This man is the mysterious Mr. Tyco Bass, an inventor and scientist. Using his marvelous stroboscopic polarizing filter he shows the boys a previously undetected satellite of the Earth, which he calls Basidium-X. He refits their spaceship, giving them some special fuel he invented to power it, and tells them to fly to the mushroom planet (after getting their parents' permission). He warns them that their trip will only be successful if they bring a mascot.

When it is time for launch, they grab David's hen, Mrs. Pennyfeather, at the last moment for a mascot, and rocket into space. They find Basidium-X to be a small, verdant world covered in soft moss and tree-size mushrooms. They quickly meet some residents of the mushroom planet, small men with large heads and slightly green skin, of the same people as the mysterious Mr. Bass. They tell the boys that their planet has had a crisis and that everyone is slowly dying of a mysterious sickness. The boys meet up with the king of the planet, the Great Ta, and end up solving the natives' problem, before returning to Earth.

  • 1
    I added an summary of the story, as your answer was other a link-only answer. We prefer to have all the information we need here on SE, in case the links die or the information on them changes. Thanks for answering, and welcome!
    – user31178
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 20:13
  • 2
    There's no dog in the Mushroom Planet books, there are 2 kids, and they don't go to the moon (Luna). So the points of similarity are .... limited. Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 23:23
  • Your answer helped answer another identification question: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/216081/4918 Science Fiction Story About Two Kids That Build A Spaceship Pre-1994. Thank you.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 13:03

"BLAST OFF" by Linda C. Cain and Susan Rosenbaum

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Visionary Vintage Children’s Book Celebrates Gender Equality, Ethnic Diversity, and Space Exploration

  • 3
    Can you add some information showing how this matches the details of the question? Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 14:36
  • Welcome to SFF:SE. We recommend having a look at the tour, which contains helpful hints for using the site. As this is a story identification question, you can also have a look at this guide.
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 14:52

The books you are looking for are written by Ellen Wilson and Nan Agle. They are referred to as the “Three boys series” of books. The particular book you reference is “Three boys and Space” from June of 1962. Hope this helps!

When the space age bug bites Abercrombie, Benjamin and Christopher simultaneously with the announcement of a school Space Age Essay contest, the entire fifth grade is caught up in one torrential epidemic. The Space Club, organized by the Principal and headed by the triplets, is the main channel for all kinds of basic research as well as the construction of a model rocket. Though the news of Yuri Gagarin's flight depresses morale, Alan Shepard's success recharges it and provides the impetus for some prize winning essays. The fact that contemporary astronauts are mentioned makes the absence of John Glenn particularly noticeable. But this can be overlooked in a worthwhile story. Despite all the enthusiasm, there is a surprisingly unreal quality to the triplets, their friends and the goody goody, let's-all-join-in atmosphere of the progressive school they attend.


  • 1
    Hi there! :) could you edit into your answer why you think this is the right answer?
    – Jenayah
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 17:56
  • 1
    Does this book have a wizard in it? The one in the question does. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:08

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