#Nonfiction Monday Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

Today we’re featuring the picture book, Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum.

 

Told in the first person by the rover herself, the text explains the project in detail. Readers discover the initial concept, how the rover was constructed, about the trip to Mars, how the rover was deployed, and the tools she uses on the planet to look for evidence of life.

Markus Motum is an artist by training and his unusual mixed-media illustrations are what capture the reader’s attention about the book, starting with the big red planet Mars set against the blackness of space on the title page. He uses geometric shapes like triangles, rectangles, and pyramids in his landscapes. The shapes create a feeling of other worldliness that carries throughout.

The only negative aspect of the book is that the text is often very small and on some pages the text is blue or another dark color against a black background. The small font allows for a lot of information to be packed into a page, but it will be difficult for struggling readers with eye problems to make out the words, and it will be impossible for teachers or librarians to try to read aloud in front of a group.

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover will be a good choice for kids fascinated by our solar system and the rovers that help us explore it. It would also be a useful resource for research projects and classroom use because it is packed with information. Check out a copy today.

Suggested Activity

Check NASA’s Mars for Kids website to learn more about Curiosity and for hands on activities.

This video explains Curiosity’s mission.

This one shows Curiosity’s position on Mars in an interactive way. Cool!

If you’d like to read more, try our growing list of children’s books about the planets and solar system at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (March 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0763695041
ISBN-13: 978-0763695040

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

nonfictionmonday

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Reaching New Heights in #Kidlit If You Were the Moon by @LauraPSalas

Laura Purdie Salas has long been one of our favorite authors (see previous reviews for Water Can Be… and A Leaf Can Be…) In her newest, If You Were the Moon* illustrated by Jaime Kim, Salas reaches new heights.

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Combining spare, imaginative text with denser scientific explanations, this book has potential for a multitude of uses. It can be a lovely bedtime book, the basis for a language arts lesson, or a great accompaniment to a lesson on the solar system.

Salas must inspire her illustrators to greatness, because Jaime Kim’s art positively shines.

If You Were the Moon is a must have for budding astronomers and poets everywhere.

See for yourself in this book trailer:

Related Activities:

1. Visit Laurie Purdie Salas’s website for downloadable teaching guides (long and short versions) and other goodies.

2. In the longer teaching guide, the author reveals that If You Were the Moon began as a list poem. Some of the earliest list poems were by Sei Shonogan, a Japanese writer/poet who lived around the year 1000. Here’s an example from The Pillow Book:

Things that Pass by Rapidly

A boat with its sail up.
People’s age.
Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter.
~ Sei Shonogan

My own example (see more here):

Things my cat George likes:
Rubbing faces when he gets up in the morning
A dropped Cheerio
The top of the cat-scratching post
Chasing ping-pong balls down the stairs
Things I like:
My cat George

Encourage children to try writing a list poem.

3. See our growing list of poetry books about space at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press (March 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 146778009X
ISBN-13: 978-1467780094

Read a Book with an Astronaut on the International Space Station

What would be more exciting than reading a story along with an astronaut who is on the International Space Station? The Story Time From Space website offers a video library of astronauts reading space-related children’s books. Right now there are only a few available, but more are being added regularly.

One of the videos that is currently available features Max Goes to the Space Station: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog (Science Adventures with Max the Dog series) by Jeffrey Bennett and illustrated by Michael Carroll.

Max is a big dog who travels to the International Space Station. To prepare, he goes to train for the trip in Houston. Readers learn a lot about the space station and space while going on the adventure, including how astronauts are weightless due to the fact they are in free fall. You can see the rest in the video of astronaut Mike Hopkins reading this book.

Age Range: 7 – 9 years
Publisher: Big Kid Science (November 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1937548287
ISBN-13: 978-1937548285

Here in Arizona, we have our own celebrity astronaut author, Mark Kelly. He wrote Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story (Paula Wiseman Books) illustrated by C. F. Payne, which is on the list of books selected for this project. It is based on Mark Kelly’s observations of a real mouse that was part of an experiment on the space shuttle Endeavour. The little mouse didn’t cling to the side of his cage like the other mice while in space, but free floated instead.

In the fiction picture book, Meteor the mouse goes on a trip on the space shuttle. When the astronauts let him out of the cage, Meteor has a chance to save the day. Can he do it?

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books; First Edition edition (October 9, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1442458240
ISBN-13: 978-1442458246

In a follow up book, Mousetronaut Goes to Mars (Paula Wiseman Books) by Mark Kelly and illustrated by C. F. Payne, Meteor goes to Mars. What will he do there?

These are sweet books that give a taste for space, but don’t get bogged down in a lot of detail. For those interested in learning more, there is an extensive Afterword section in the back matter.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (October 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1442484268
ISBN-13: 978-1442484269

Disclosures: These books were provided by our local library. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Exploring the Solar System with Saturn Could Sail

“Do you know” what the title of the lively picture book Saturn Could Sail (Did You Know?)by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, with illustrations by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon, refers to? If not, you are going to learn loads of new things about our solar system and beyond!

The intriguing title refers to the fact that Saturn is less dense than water and could float in it if one could find a container of water large enough. Given our experience has mostly been with our own rocky planet, which is much denser than water, the fact a something as huge as a planet could float is very surprising to think about.

This books is full of those kind of thought-provoking facts. Another example is that scientists conclude there’s a star made entirely of diamond. This might be confusing to children who have been taught that stars are made of gas, because a diamond is not made of gas. In reality, the diamond star is a white dwarf, which is a type of star that has cooled off and is no longer active. It could be considered to be a “dead” star, although I can see why the authors might want to avoid calling it that.

With conversational-style text, humorous cartoon illustrations (both illustrators have worked on animated films), and a fascinating collection of up-to-date facts,  Saturn Could Sail is very appealing to children interested in an introduction to astronomy. It would be a good choice for reluctant readers, as well.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Little Simon (December 16, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1481414283
ISBN-13: 978-1481414289

Check our growing list of children’s books about our solar system at Science Books for Kids.

planet-books-button
Disclosures:  I found this book at my local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.