Book About G-Forces for Children

Feel the G’s:  The Science of Gravity and G-Forces by Suzanne Slade is not for the faint of heart. G-forces are the stuff of roller-coasters, fighter jets and shuttle launches. If the ideas of “eyeballs in” versus “eyeballs out” makes you queasy, you might want to avoid this topic. For those of you with the courage to read more, hold on because this book will take you for a wild journey.Feel The G's

Suzanne Slade starts with a description of a roller coaster ride, one place where children may have actually experienced significant g-forces. After getting our pulses racing, she defines the term “g-force.” G-force has to do with the acceleration of objects. particularly the human body. A “g” is a unit of measurement, just like a yard or a liter. It turns out that too much acceleration can have some nasty consequences to human health, such as fainting, loss of vision, loss of hearing or worse. Yikes.

The author takes us on a tour of exciting activities where g-forces come into play, while gently introducing key concepts. For example, to illustrate how changing direction is a form of acceleration, she brings up race car drivers racing around a race track. Did you know getting tackled in football can create short term impacts of over 100 g? The real world examples keep interest up and make complicated physics more concrete and understandable.

Slade finishes up with a chapter about death-defying research performed by Colonel John Stapp in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Colonel Stapp was a pioneer in the study of g-forces, and he put his own life on the line as a living “crash-dummy” to test his theories. His insights led to many safety improvements in both planes and automobiles, and have saved countless lives.

Towards the front of the book is a sidebar titled “Keeping Current.” It is a list of terms to type into search engines. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of this. Why put this list in the front instead of as an appendix? As my imagination careened wildly, I envisioned nonfiction books of the future would simply be lists of relevant search engine terms and links to websites. After searching for the term g-force, however, I finally got it. If you aren’t careful searching this particular topic, you can quickly stray into some websites that are not appropriate for children. Good idea to point them to safe search terms right away.

Given the popularity of a recent movie about guinea pigs, children may be looking for more information about g-forces. This book is a good introduction to a complex topic.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Compass Point Books (March 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0756540526
ISBN-13: 978-0756540524
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7 x 0.3 inches

This review copy was provided by Capstone Press.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at In Need of Chocolate.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca is an extraordinary book. You can tell the minute you open it and see the front endpapers, which have exquisite, detailed illustrations of Apollo 11. There, laid out simply, is enough information about the flight to be a book in itself. You just have to stop and take it all in. But there’s more. moonshot1

The story itself begins with a well-grounded view of the moon from the earth. Simple, poetic words start you on your journey, a journey like no other. The first trip to the moon.

Following the astronauts as they get ready, you hear the clicks of their equipment as the pieces snap into place. Before long the earth is shaking, as the rocket takes off. The pace, the number of words and the energy all accelerate as the Eagle is about to land. Wow!

After reading all the rave reviews and seeing all the awards (Moonshot has been nominated for the Cybils award in the category of nonfiction picture book), I knew it was an obvious choice for my young nephew who is interested in the solar system and space right now. If you want to see more, take a peek at the trailers below.

For those that want to delve deeper into the flight after reading the book, such as why the astronauts have yellow feet when they are headed to board Apollo 11, take a look at author Brian Floca’s Moonshot Notes webpage. You will be amazed at the lengths he went to to achieve such accuracy and outstanding detail. This book is a superb example of an author fully understanding his topic and being able to finely distill the information to its essence. Magnifique.

Edit: For a fabulous review of the same book, with hands on activities visit Playing by the book.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141695046X
ISBN-13: 978-1416950462
Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 10.6 x 0.6 inches

To explore more, there are some space-related activities to do with children at Growing With Science Blog this week.

To see for yourself what the fuss is about, take a look at the book trailers:

Trailer 1

Trailer 2


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Rasco From RIF.

Children’s Writing Contests

Ever wonder whether you should enter a writing contest? I entered one once and actually won. It was the prestigious Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators writing contest #31.

Did I win fame and fortune? No, but I did get my membership renewed, which was extremely valuable to me.  That’s why I am going to recommend two writing contests that have deadlines coming up soon. I like writing contests that don’t charge a fee and potentially lead to publication.

Delacorte Press has a contest for a first young adult novel.  Entries must be postmarked by December 31, 2009. They want manuscripts from authors who have not previously published young adult novels and will accept up to two submissions. Might be an incentive for getting your NaNoWriMo efforts ready.

Highlights Magazine 2010 Contest wants a fiction entry based on a true story from your family. Entries must be postmarked between January 1 and 31, 2010. See their guidelines for more details.

Good luck and let me know if you win!