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

nonfictionmonday

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.

Praying Mantises

praying mantisesPraying Mantises: Hungry Insect Heroes (Insect World) by Sandra Markle

Finally, a book about praying mantises that doesn’t perpetuate the myth that female praying mantises always eat their mates. Sandra Markle writes in Praying Mantises: Hungry Insect Heroes, “Scientists report that mantises rarely do this in the wild.” It turns out that the myth was started when people kept praying mantises indoors to observe them. Female mantises require a lot of food to produce eggs and the people who fed them rarely supplied enough. The ravenous females ate anything presented to them at that point. When kept outside, the praying mantis often has enough to eat and her mate doesn’t become lunch.

Sandra Markle starts with a detailed look at the outside and the inside of a praying mantis. This is helpful for someone who has never looked closely at a praying mantis. Throughout the book are fabulous photographs and quick “mantis facts” that help capture a reader’s attention as he or she skims through. At the end, between “Digging Deeper” and the index, there are two activities. The first, strike time, relates to how extremely fast a praying mantis can grab its prey. The activity is easy to do and doesn’t require a mantis. The second is to observe a mantis up close in a jar for a day or two and then let it go. Just remember from above, it is hard to keep a praying mantis well fed.

We have had a praying mantis on the same plant for weeks now. Every morning we check to see that it is still there, and we’ve developed a fond feeling towards it. After reading this book we can now take our observations to another level.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 48 pages
Publisher: Lerner Publications (December 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822573008
ISBN-13: 978-0822573005

If you’d like to see a photograph of our mantis, check my Growing With Science blog praying mantis post.

nonfictionmonday

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 Wild About Nature.

Bouncing Baby Spiders

Babies are always cute, but some people might have trouble with using the words cute and spider in the same sneakyspinning-baby-spiderssentence. Those readers may change their minds after picking up Sneaky, Spinning Baby Spiders by Sandra Markle. In this book Markle has combined spectacular photographs of baby and adult spiders with carefully crafted text. For example, the photograph on page five of a jumping spider flying through the air as it pounces is amazing.

The accompanying text is exactly the right balance of factual and lively to make it informative and fun to read. It must have been difficult not to slip into anthropomorphism when the subject is babies, but the author kept just the right tone. Markle writes “mother spider,” but not “mom.” She also uses feminine pronouns instead of the neutral “it.” Those touches draw the young reader in.

Although the author has done a great job with the text, I did find one inaccuracy. Whenever an author is not an expert on a topic and has to rely on others for photographs, a chance for errors creeps in. In this case, the spider identified on page 24 as a “slender sac spider,” genus Chiracanthium, is actually a giant crab spider, genus Olios. One the plus side, the photographs also represent spiders from throughout the world, instead of from only one area or continent as so often is the case.

At the end of the book, the map of where the spiders are found is a nice touch. I also like Markle’s paragraph about how she was inspired to write this book by finding a spider’s web intact after a severe storm. It is a warm, personal note that sets the tone for the entire book.

All in all, Sneaky, Spinning Baby Spider is a wonderful addition to any library.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (October 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802796974
ISBN-13: 978-0802796974

For a related activity, visit Spider Webs at Growing With Science blog. Edit: Check More About Baby Spiders for a list of children’s picture books about spiders.

nonfictionmonday

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 Simply Science.