Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space: Book Review

Picking books for children can be difficult, not only are we adults battling with TV, game consoles, tablets and toys, it’s hard to fit the old-fashioned entertainment of a book into a child’s life. There’s no doubt children have a great imagination and at a young age nothing is impossible so when they become interested in a topic such as space, it is something we here at the Planetarium like to encourage. Therefore when a tool such as a good book comes to hand we like to share our secrets and pass the torch in the hope fellow readers can encourage their young ones to read, learn and blossom in a science based subject.

 

"Vintage colouring and a 70’s vibe" (image credit: Samantha Steed, Armagh Planetarium)

“Vintage colouring and a 70’s vibe” (image credit: Samantha Steed, Armagh Planetarium)

 

At first glance this book is very appealing; with vintage colouring and a 70’s vibe it practically jumps off the shelves. I was intrigued by the bright oranges; the navy’s and yellows not to mention the patterned and smooth cover. Predominantly aimed at children I couldn’t help but pick it up and glance through the pages.
 
This book takes you on a journey through the solar system with Professor Astro Cat and his trusty mouse sidekick. It’s the space-themed Tom and Jerry that is missing from every child’s bookshelf covering the planets, the moon landings and more. The opening pages tackle topics such as the Big Bang, expansion theory and galaxy formations in a comprehensible and fun way for young readers. It leads into an introduction to the planets, dwarf planets and even the Earth’s orbit around the Sun all within the first 10 pages. This book really packs a punch with information on the Apollo Moon landings, life on the International Space Station, constellations and telescopes making it a great rounded read for children interested in space.
 
It’s well written and easy to read, one element I really enjoyed about this book was the diagrams and images. It is packed with information but the images help to explain the content easily. It also makes it more attractive for young readers with pictures and a colourful layout from one page to the next. It’s a large book so everything is carefully laid out to fill the page however under no circumstances is it an overwhelming read considering size and content. There are ‘fact’ sections on the pages too so children can read fun facts and conduct their own mini activities like using a radio to hear the leftover echo from the Big Bang or calculating your age on Mercury.

 

"Using a radio to hear the leftover echo from the Big Bang" (Image credit: Samantha Steed/Armagh Planetarium)

“Using a radio to hear the leftover echo from the Big Bang” (Image credit: Samantha Steed/Armagh Planetarium)

 

This is a book that won’t be read in one sitting but will be read over a period of time. Although there is a glossary at the back for some words children may not have stumbled upon before, I would still recommend it as a good book to read with your children to help with any big words or aid the discussion about the Universe. I would recommend this for children aged 6 and up depending on their interest in the topic of space, working in an educational environment I have come across children of all ages but the content and the level at which you talk to them really depends on their interest and knowledge.
 
Overall this book is a great read for young space enthusiasts; it will feed their imagination and introduce them to areas of science they may not have stumbled on before not to mention discoveries, theories and previous ventures in space travel. It even concludes with a paragraph encouraging young readers to look to the skies and one day help’ solve the mysteries at the frontiers of space.’ Many children think of space and immediately look at the career of an astronaut but this book opens possibilities not just in space travel but other areas of science and engineering for the budding young reader.
 
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman, Flying Eye Books
 
(Review by Samantha Steed, Education Support Officer, review copy purchased privately)