Space Maps by Lara Albanese and Tommaso Vidus Rosin

The award for coolest nonfiction book of the year (and possibly the best book about space for kids EVER) goes to Space Maps by Lara Albanese and Tommaso Vidus Rosin. Its combination of bite-sized facts, stunning design and illustrations and sheer size make this a winning nonfiction book. It’s a book that every space fan, young or old, needs to have on their home bookshelf.

Starting with what we can see with our eyes (the stars and constellations) and moving further out to the planets we know, and then to beyond our solar system, readers journey throughout the universe. We see the planets in new ways, with maps showing us the craters, chasmas and seas and giving us interesting tidbits of information to astound our friends and family. The Selenean Summit, for instance, is the highest point on the moon and is higher than Mount Everest. Each planet has an identity card with fast facts about each one, including average temperature (-63 degrees Celsius for Mars) and number of moons (79 for Jupiter). We also learn about the observatories that help us look in to space and the things that help humans survive in space, including spacesuits and the International Space Station.

Space Maps is a book to treasure and pore over again and again. It’s a book that is beautifully produced, with strong binding, thick paper and a hard cover, meaning it will stand up to repeat reading in a home, school or public library. The large format of the book makes this a great book for sharing, spreading it out on a table or the floor to soak up the information and illustrations. Like any good nonfiction book there is a contents, glossary and a detailed index.

Tommaso Vidus Rosin’s illustrations are absolutely stunning! His maps of the planets are really detailed and the colours swirl and glow. I love how some of the pages really do seem to glow, like the map of the sun. You can tell that he has spent a lot of time studying images of the planets in order to create his images.

Get to your bookshop or library now and get a copy of this wonderful book.

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

Christopher Edge’s previous book, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was science fiction for kids at its best. Christopher effortlessly wove actual science with fiction into a story about a boy’s search for his mum across multiple dimensions. It is a fantastic book that the kids at my school have loved and I’ve certainly enjoyed discussing the story with them. Christopher’s latest book, The Jamie Drake Equation, is another brilliant science fiction story that readers young and old will devour.

Repro_JamieDrake_cvr.inddHow amazing would it be to have a dad who’s an astronaut?

Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake’s dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it’s cool but he just really misses him…

Hanging out at his local observatory, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad’s mission goes wrong, can Jamie prove that he’s a hero too?

The Jamie Drake Equation tore apart my atoms, shook them up and put me back together again. It made me smile, broke my heart and left me in awe of the universe.  The story is narrated by Jamie so you really get inside his head and experience his sadness, embarrassment , heartbreak, wonder and awe.

Ultimately this is a story about a boy and his connection with his father who he just wants to return to him on Earth. Jamie’s dad is often away, training for missions or up in space, and Jamie and his family have had to live all over the world for his dad to achieve his dreams. Jamie really misses his dad and just wants him to be home, rather than talking to him on a screen. His dad’s latest mission is to launch nano-spacecraft in to space to look for signs of alien life. However, it’s Jamie who makes contact with an alien race when he accidentally downloads a transmission to the Hubble Telescope to his phone. Soon Jamie is discovering more about aliens and the universe than he ever thought he would.

Like The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, the thing I love most about The Jamie Drake Equation is the way that Christopher not only tells a fantastic story but also teaches you about the wonders of the universe. I never knew about things like a star’s ‘Goldilocks zone’, or that one of our closest stars, Proxima Centauri, is only four and a quarter light years from Earth. Reading this book made me want to desperately visit an observatory to look at the stars (something I’ve never done).  I’m sure Christopher will inspire kids to want to explore the universe too.

The Jamie Drake Equation is perfect for readers who love adventure, science and space, stories about families, or anyone who just loves a gripping story.   It would be a great read aloud for Years 6-8 as it will certainly grab kids (and teachers).  I wonder where Christopher Edge will take us next?