Danielle J. Ford writes about “What Makes a Good Space Book?” in this issue. For more recommended space books, see the reviews below, compiled from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit www.hbook.com/subscriber-info.
Aguilar, David A. 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System
64 pp. National 2011. ISBN 978-1-4263-0770-6
LE ISBN 978-1-4263-0771-3
Gr. 4–6 In this useful volume, Aguilar explains the latest categorizations of planets in our solar system (currently considered to be eight planets and five dwarf planets), then profiles each, along with providing information about the sun and various other nearby bodies. Most of the crisp illustrations are color-enhanced photographic images or digital-looking artistic renderings. Basic planet stats are appended. Websites.
Andronik, Catherine M. Copernicus: Founder of Modern Astronomy
128 pp. Enslow 2009. (New ed., 2002). LE ISBN 978-0-7660-3013-8
Datnow, Claire L. Edwin Hubble: Discoverer of Galaxies
128 pp. Enslow 2007. (New ed., 1997). LE ISBN 978-0-7660-2791-6
Hightower, Paul Galileo: Astronomer and Physicist
128 pp. Enslow 2008. (New ed., 1997). LE ISBN 978-0-7660-3008-4
YA Great Minds of Science series. These well-written biographies of noted astronomers recount important developments in the field as well as providing information about the scientists’ personal lives and the time periods in which they lived. Together, the books show how the practice of science has changed over different historical eras. These revised editions feature full-color illustrations including portraits and scientific diagrams; activities are appended. Reading list, timeline, websites.
Bortz, Fred Seven Wonders of Space Technology
80 pp. Twenty-First Century 2011. LE ISBN 978-0-7613-5453-6
Miller, Ron Seven Wonders Beyond the Solar System
80 pp. Twenty-First Century 2011. LE ISBN 978-0-7613-5454-3
Miller, Ron Seven Wonders of the Gas Giants and Their Moons
80 pp. Twenty-First Century 2011. LE ISBN 978-0-7613-5449-9
Miller, Ron Seven Wonders of the Rocky Planets and Their Moons
80 pp. Twenty-First Century 2011. LE ISBN 978-0-7613-5448-2
Gr. 4–6 Seven Wonders series. These well-organized volumes cover the basics of planetary science, star formation, and technological advancements in the exploration of space. Sharp color-enhanced images portray planetary and stellar features for astronomy buffs. In Technology, photographs illustrate the existing devices while artist renderings imagine innovations of the future. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Brake, Mark Really, Really Big Questions about Space and Time
64 pp. Kingfisher/Macmillan 2010. ISBN 978-0-7534-6502-8
Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Nishant Choksi. Brake uses a question-and-answer format to cover a wide range of astronomy topics, split into chapters on the formation of the universe, stars, the nature of time, and space exploration and alien life. Eye-pleasingly goofy cartoons placed on colorful construction paper–like pages don’t make the dense explanations any easier to understand, but the volume may whet science-minded readers’ appetites. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Dixon-Engel, Tara and Jackson, Mike Neil Armstrong: One Giant Leap for Mankind
124 pp. Sterling 2008. ISBN 978-1-4027-6061-7
PE ISBN 978-1-4027-4496-9
Gr. 4–6 Sterling Biographies series. An attractive layout and numerous images of photos, documents, etc., (e.g., Armstrong’s high school yearbook entry) make for an engaging, easy-to-approach biography. The volume begins by detailing a significant moment — the moon landing — then backtracks to the astronaut’s early years to continue the detail-rich narrative. Sidebars flesh out historical contexts and important contemporaries. Source notes. Timeline. Bib., glos., ind.
Fox, Karen C. Older than the Stars
32 pp. Charlesbridge 2010. ISBN 978-1-57091-787-5
Gr. K–3 Illustrated by Nancy Davis. Fox explains the fascinating-yet-true concept that the atoms that make up our bodies, our earth, and even our universe are the same that have existed since the Big Bang. In an assemblage of brightly colored graphic art, the formation of matter from the origins of the universe to its combination into atoms, elements, stars, planets, and life is shown in sequence. Timeline. Glos.
Hawking, Lucy and Hawking, Stephen George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt
305 pp. Simon 2009. ISBN 978-1-4169-8671-3
Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Garry Parsons. In this sequel to George’s Secret Key to the Universe, friends George and Annie (daughter of a Global Space Agency scientist) again venture through the universe, this time to investigate possible extraterrestrial contact. Contrived dialogue and precious plotting hamper the story, but the interspersed essays — contributed by leading scientists — are inspiring, communicating both basic concepts and thrilling frontiers. Stunning photos are included.
Skurzynski, Gloria This Is Rocket Science: True Stories of the Risk-Taking Scientists Who Figure Out Ways to Explore Beyond Earth
80 pp. National 2010. ISBN 978-1-4263-0597-9
LE ISBN 978-1-4263-0598-6
Gr. 4–6 Skurzynski outlines the history of rocketry, covering its origins in Chinese uses of gunpowder, the advances of the “Fathers of Modern Rocketry,” the mid-twentieth-century war research of German, Soviet, and American scientists, and current and future private and government-funded rocket research. Crisp color and black-and-white illustrations include both historical and contemporary space shuttle/rocket images and future space vehicles. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
From the November/December 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.