Books by Franklyn M. Branley

MISSION TO MARS by Franklyn M. Branley
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The incomparable creator of this pioneering series, who will be sadly missed by all young scientists, extends an invitation and sparks the imagination as he authors another outstanding title in the Lets-Read-and-Find-Out Science series. He begins: "In this century, you may become the first person to walk on Mars." What would the journey be like? How would you get there? What would you take with you? How would you survive on the planet? He explains with brief, simple text, using what scientists know about the planet and extrapolating from previous space explorations. He uses photos from NASA to explain surface conditions, give facts about gravity, and proof that there was once water and could be still. Kelley (Three More Stories You Can Read to Your Cat, p. 341, etc.) provides meticulous pen-and-watercolor drawings that show men and women aboard the space ship, setting up the Mars station, and moving along the rocky terrain of the planet. Double-page spreads of the red-orange landscape and rocky surface are especially captivating. The author concludes with more facts about the planet and a Pathfinder photograph of Mars on which various rocks are named. A book to give young explorers goosebumps. (Nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1999

PLB 0-06-028145-6 paper 0-06-445192-5 Is There Life In Outer Space? (40pp.; $15.95; PLB $15.89; paper $4.95; Sept.; 0-06-028146-4; PLB 0-06-028145-6; paper 0-06-445192-5): Colorful, fanciful, outlandish artwork from Miller are the attention-getters here, for Branley's 1984 text makes no claims on space exploration in the 90s. Branley begins his examination of the search for extraterrestrials with two examples of fabrication: the wishful sightings of Moon folk, and Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds" hoax. Welles admitted to his big joke, and both manned and unmanned space probes have set the records straight on the moon and planetary life. The author must foster the possibility that distant galaxies, outside our ken but not our lively imagination, may support life: "Who knows?" The recent spate of books on the universe and other aspects of the vast Out There only make this one—despite Miller's zany computer- generated scenes and full-color photographs'seem feeble. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 28, 1998

For this Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science entry, originally published in 1975, Schuett brings an artistic spirit to Branley's facts about the origins of light: A child perched in a treehouse discovers light from a luminous jar of fireflies; candles on a birthday cake illustrate the concept of light coming from sources that are hot. Within a text that is somewhat repetitive, Branley offers elementary explanation of properties of light: reflective light, speed of light, and what happens inside an electric light bulb. Sunlight, candlelight, flashlight, campfire, lanterns, and stars are discussed. The mention of simple experiments, e.g., placing a white plate in a dark room, provides hands-on opportunities for very young learners. A snug atmosphere and palette are reminiscent of some scenes in Schuett's own Somewhere in the World Right Now (1996, not reviewed). (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8) Read full book review >
FLOATING IN SPACE by Franklyn M. Branley
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Feb. 28, 1998

In this Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science entry, Branley (see review, above) takes readers on a space shuttle mission, from blast-off to touchdown, but focusing mainly on life in orbit. As he points out, ``zero gravity'' is a misnomer—but only barely; so negligible is gravitational pull that astronauts temporarily grow an inch or so as their joints relax, are able to stand on the walls and ceiling, have to learn new ways to eat, sleep, and use the toilet, and must be very careful about stowing small objects before re-entry. In Kelley's cheerful watercolors, smiling space travelers—including one woman—bounce around the shuttle's cabin and suit up for extra vehicular tasks while back on Earth, a young girl eagerly tracks the flight on television. While in the claim that heavy equipment—even the 12-ton Hubble telescope—can be lifted in space, Branley oversimplifies the effects of inertia and momentum, his choice of detail about conditions in space will surprise and delight readers. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 30, 1994

Using the latest data from space probe Magellan, a master astronomy writer gives a detailed portrait of our ``sister planet.'' With intense heat, crushing pressure, and dense carbon dioxide clouds, Venus is no vacation spot, except perhaps for sulphur-breathing creatures made of diamond; but its existence does prompt intriguing questions about how Earth and Venus, nearly the same size and formed at the same time of the same primordial matter, could be so different. In exploring Venus's surface features, magnetism (none), and atmosphere, Branley ties together information on tectonic plates, Earth's core and mantle, and the use of radar for mapping to show why science is such a fascinating puzzle. One cavil: A color-enhanced ``map'' of Venus is included with no information on the extent of the area it covers, where north is, whether it's a projection, etc. Essentially the same information but more detailed than Simon's Venus (1992). Color photos, drawings, and computer images; spacecraft chronology; table of comparative Earth/Venus statistics; further reading; index. (Nonfiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years, forever—it's surprising how arbitrary our temporal bookkeeping is, owing as much to lore as to science. Branley ranges through history, astrology, astronomy, and modern technology to explore how we've arrived at our hodgepodge of nomenclature and method, while Weber's drawings amplify and extend the text. Surprisingly, the much-experienced author occasionally approaches but then fails to draw a conclusion—e.g., that we have 12 months because there are 12 full moons in a year. Clocks are given short shrift: pendulums aren't mentioned, and there's an anomalous drawing of a 10-hour clock with what looks like a 12-hour alarm. Nevertheless, there's a lot here for either an individual reader or a class. Bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 8+) Read full book review >
VOLCANOES by Franklyn M. Branley
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 10, 1985

This trim overview gives young readers an excellent grounding on volcanoes in an efficient few words. Branley starts out strong with direct, one-page descriptions of how Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii, Mount Tabora made 1816 the year without a summer, and Mount St. Helens "covered fields and ponds" and "buried animals, houses, and people" in mud. There follows a succinct and easily readable explanation of how volcanoes are caused by magma pushing up between (or through) moving plates in the earth's crust. Then comes a pair of snappy maps, with bright little bursts of color denoting the Pacific Ring of Fire and other volcano locations throughout the world. Simont's varied illustrations—be they maps, diagrams, turbulent scenes, or pictures of people—are as vigorous and telling as the text. Read full book review >