CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 39. . . .June 11, 2010
UFOs and Aliens. (Amazing Mysteries).
Collingwood, ON: Saunders Book Co., 2010.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $23.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-926660-00-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-59920-368-3 (hc.).
Unidentified flying objects-Juvenile literature.
Extraterrestrial beings-Juvenile literature.
Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.
Review by Margaret Snow.
All around the world, there are very old pictures and objects that show figures like aliens and spaceships. Is this proof that aliens have been watching us for thousands of years?
Can You Believe It?
Did alien astronauts come to Earth many thousands of years ago? Some people think they did and that old descriptions of gods who fly through the sky are really accounts of aliens in spacecraft. They suggest that ancient structures like the pyramids would be too hard to make with very simple tools - so perhaps aliens helped make them.
Caves in South America have pictures that could show spaceships and alien astronauts. A carving on an old temple in Mexico shows something like a spaceman sitting in a rocket, with fire coming out of the bottom. Rock carvings in the desert at Toro Mueerto, Peru seem to show alien astronauts and spaceships. They may be 1,000 years old.
On a plain at Nazca, Peru, huge pictures of shapes have been drawn in the ground. Some of the pictures show animals and birds. They are so big they can only be seen properly from the air. The pictures were created hundreds of years ago. Some people think they were made to please alien visitors arriving from space.
The Dogon is a tribe in Africa. They have stories about a star system we call Sirius. Their stories tell of three stars. For a long time, scientist thought Sirius had only two stars. But in the 1990s, they discovered an invisible third star. The Dogons say fish-like spirits brought them knowledge of the third star many years ago. Did aliens visit the Dogon and tell them about their star system?
At a Glance Aliens
-There are lots of very old carvings and pictures that could show aliens or spaceships.
-Some people think aliens must have helped to make ancient structures like the pyramids.
-Aliens might be behind some stories of gods or flying magical creatures.
One of the newest books on extraterrestrials targeting late primary/early junior children is Anne Rooney's UFOs and Aliens from the "Amazing Mysteries" series. Anne Rooney of Cambridge, England, is a mother of two teenage daughters and has over 100 books in print, most of them nonfiction. In addition to her experience in writing books, she is also an online book reviewer. Her repertoire includes writing for adults as well as children.
On her website, Rooney states her writings are almost always commissioned prior to beginning her work, and this book really has that feel rather than being written by someone who is passionate about a topic. Frequently, the term "some people" is used, but she never clarifies who the "some people" are.
UFOs and Aliens differs from the norm on this topic as it is written thematically, with the content grouped into eight chapters, rather than bing presented chronologically. This approach can lead to some confusion for the young reader regarding the timeline of events. Her chapters are broken up by subtitles with specific text boxes labeled EYE WITNESS, AT-A-GLANCE-ALIENS, WHAT'S THE PROOF and MYSTERY MOMENT for each of the themes.
Anne Rooney has incorporated text features that teachers prefer—a table of contents, text boxes, variety in font, colour and size for effect, bold print, index, glossary, suggested websites, etc. She begins with an introductory chapter on Visitors from Space, followed by accounts of UFO spottings. She then has readers meeting aliens and the infamous "Men in Black." From there, the author describes the three basic alien types (grey, green and reptilian) and alien abductions before proceeding to discuss rumored alien and UFO captures and storage. The reader then learns of art through the centuries and around the globe that depicts what "some people" currently consider might be aliens and spacecraft. Next, she writes of what "some people consider" to be an alien landing strip, towers and obelisks on the moon. The final chapter contains the least speculative information as it briefly explains how scientists are looking and listening for messages from space.
When reviewing nonfiction, I frequently comment on the need for websites for our tech savvy pupils. However, I feel they must be selected carefully for those with impressionable minds. After visiting the three recommend websites, I had concerns about using two of them with students, even with an adult assisting them with implementation of critical thinking skills. The first website takes readers to an article and very grainy video on the 1969 Russian alien space crash site. This very slanted article could be quite difficult for a child of the target age to sort through the facts. The second website was excellent as it takes the viewer to the NASA website, and factual information concerning American space missions can be found at a click. The third website I would strongly advise with a cautionary note—the videos there could be very disturbing to children. For example, one pictures an alien baby supposedly in a garbage dumpster. Another says about a somewhat focused moon video:"You can CLEARLY see structures, images and towers" and, although highlighted to prove their point, I felt one would need a great deal of imagination to discern this.
I do believe some aspects of UFOs and Aliens, if aligned with the correct critical thinking student or with teacher directed lessons on critical literacy, would be fascinating, high interest, low vocabulary nonfiction reading. With the break down of the topics and the easy reading level being considered, it might also be directed to a struggling child with a fascination on this subject to group ideas when creating a project. Segments might also be used to model the formation of summaries by using the AT-A-GLANCE section from the subtitle and paragraphs in each component.
However, when making purchases for school libraries in particular, one must consider the clientele. I have three reservations about purchasing this book for my own school library. In my small Christian rural community, there could be much controversy about it being anti- Christian/anti-creationism, especially for the target audience. One might also have concerns that parts could give a sensitive child nightmares. My third reservation is due to the imagery in two of the three referred websites.
Recommended with reservations.
Margaret Snow is a teacher-librarian, computer and media literacy teacher in a small, rural school in Southwestern Ontario.
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