Stimulating career guidance for young STEM-winders.

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ASTRONAUT IN TRAINING

A quick course in the skills and background knowledge an astronaut needs.

With the announcement that “You have been selected for astronaut training,” a narrator squires a diverse group of young cartoon figures past sets of small photos of real astronauts in training and larger cartoon views of space and spacecraft, all paired to short explanatory remarks. The course begins with a physical workout, a bit of Russian vocabulary (useful, since astronaut launches are all currently from a Russian base), and a ride on the infamous “Vomit Comet.” In no logical order later spreads introduce constellations and the solar system, take trainees on a trip to the moon, survey galaxies, discuss gravity, preview living and working aboard the ISS, and gather eight luminaries including Laika and Stephen Hawking into an astronautical “Hall of Fame.” The co-published Scientist in Training puts a similarly diverse group in lab coats and offers glimpses of what scientists study, with introductions to fossils, seasons, the water cycle, physical forces, habitats, the human body, and other STEM fields. Aside from a specious claim in the former volume that there “isn’t much gravity in space, so you will float” and in the latter, a slightly misleading claim that scientists “perform exploding experiments,” the informational load, though light, is on-target. Both volumes feature inset spinners on the cover, scattered games within, and multiple-choice review quizzes at the end.

Stimulating career guidance for young STEM-winders. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7442-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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