Happy Space Day! The aim of Space Day, taken from its official site, is "nurturing young peoples' enthusiasm for the wonders of the universe and inspiring them to continue the stellar work of today's space explorers." Since this is something that books are good at, here are some of our favorite science fiction picture books.
Mungo and the Spiders from Space, by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Adam Stower (Dial 2008). Mungo finds himself inside the book he was reading...an epic space adventure entitled "Galacticus and Gizmo save the Universe." But it looks like they won't be able to save the universe from Dr. Frankenstinker and his robot spiders without Mungo's help. This is a great one for the older picture book reader--it feels somewhat like a comic book with bigger, brighter pictures. But it's a fun one to read to a smaller child too. We read this one five times in the week we had it out from the library.
Actually, this one might not inspire a child to head out into outer space (what with its scary spiders). But it is still fun.
There's Nothing to Do on Mars, by Chris Gall (Little Brown, 2008). "When Davey Martin's family moved to Mars, he thought he'd never make a friend again...Davey knew there was nothing to do on Mars." A lovely mix of a bored child and an utterly unboring planet waiting for him to discover its secrets while jetting around on his flying scooter. I especially liked the fact and diagram filled endpapers, but my boys liked the amusing story.
Sheep Blast Off! by Nancy Shaw, illustrated by Margot Apple (Houghton Mifflen Co., 2008). Those crazy sheep are back, and this time they commandeer an alien spacecraft. As anyone familiar with Shaw's sheep knows, they are bumblingly (is that a word?) incompetent--"Sheep panic. Sheep guess. Which button should they press?" A funny "first science-fiction" book for the younger child (3ish).
The final book on our list is one that really celebrates space travel and exploration in the spirit of Space Day. Astro Bunnies, by Christine Loomis, illustrated by Ora Eitan (Putnam, 2001) tells, in rhyme, of the rabbit inhabitants of a technologically-advanced rabbit world who travel into space.
See a star
Think they'd like to
Go that far"
So they don their space suits, and blast off into a magical cosmos, conducting scientific experiments, and even meeting a star travelling race of alien bunnies (with three ears)!
There is one thing
They all know
Rockets fly and
But bunnies ALWAYS
Come back home
(and this is where I used to add "to their mamas who love them so very very much," snuggle snuggle, making this Mother's Day appropriate too!")
Another good one is Earth to Clunk, reviewed here