CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 3. . . .September 17, 2010
Explore the Solar System! (Explore Your World!).
Anita Yasuda. Illustrated by Bryan Stone.
White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press (www.ipgbook.com), 2009.
92 pp., pbk., $12.95.
Planets -Juvenile literature.
Astronomy -Juvenile literature.
Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.
Review by Janice Foster.
This book will answer many of your questions and share some really amazing facts. You’ll learn about the planets, astronauts, space shuttles, meteorites, constellations, and ancient observatories. …
Along the way, we’re going to make lots of fun projects, play games, do activities, and hear some silly jokes. Ready? Set? Blast off!
The above excerpt, taken from the introductory first chapter, summarizes the content and the format of Explore the Solar System!, a recent title in the “Explore Your World!” series from Nomad Press. Anita Yasuda, author of over twenty books for both adults and children, provides her readers with the opportunity to explore the universe through both interestingly presented information and hands-on activities. The appealing cover, which clearly shows the different components of the book, will attract the attention of all readers curious about space. The topics covered include the various aspects of the solar system; the sun, the eight planets, moons, meteors, asteroids and comets, space travel and exploration, space history and stars.
The inclusion of 25 projects that use accessible household and recycled products enables the young readers to connect space concepts with fun learning experiences. They can build a space shuttle from a lemonade carton, create a Canadarm using cardboard, and make a delicious, Cahokia-style solar observatory from Rice Krispie squares. In addition to the building projects, directions are provided to make a variety of games and to conduct experiments. The games, such as Race Across the Galaxy Scavenger Hunt, Race to the Moon Board Game and Astronaut Emergency Game, reinforce knowledge about the universe. Experiments, such as making a model of a telescope to show how a convex lens works, help clarify some of the science concepts. These projects, games and experiments are clearly laid out with an introduction in bold font, a simple supply list and easy-to-follow directions.
The information about the solar system and universe in Explore the Solar System! is presented in a variety of interesting formats. The clearly written text includes boldfaced space related words. These words are simply defined in the chapter’s section “Words 2 Know” or in the glossary at the end of the book. Besides the textual information presented on a page’s white background, grayscale text boxes highlight additional facts of interest, such as Space Firsts, Star Players, Focus on (famous astronomers) and others. Other sidebars include Out of This World presenting WOW facts to capture the attention of the young space scientist and Then and Now Factoids which provide historical connections to illustrate how knowledge of astronomy topics has changed over time. There are even riddles and jokes that will appeal to the young readers. The inclusion of web sites on different aspects of space, such as The Exploratorium: Observatory, A Virtual Journey into Space and several others, as well as a list of science museums and planetariums on the Resources page, provides teachers and adults with other resources to answer the children’s questions and to stimulate further interest. An index helps the reader locate specific activities and topics covered in the book.
Bryan Stone’s cartoon-style drawings introduce each chapter with a half page bold black, white and grayscale illustration with smaller drawings interspersed throughout the text. These illustrations, which add interest and humour, connect with the textual information. Although the book lacks colour, the format is so clearly laid out that the black, white and grayscale presentation is visually appealing and enables young reader to easily focus on the content.
Explore the Solar System! provides young readers with a book that arouses curiosity about the world of space though an attractive format that includes facts with fun-filled activities. It is a book that provides the opportunity for independent exploration for young students. Elementary teachers will appreciate the variety of hands-on activities, games and experiments that will assist their students in understanding the different science concepts of the solar system. Parents and adults who work with children will find this a great resource to share and enjoy with their children. It is a useful addition to a home or school library.
Janice Foster, a retired science teacher and teacher-librarian, resides in Winnipeg, MB.
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