Ten of the Best Best Books on space exploration


Sue Unstead chooses ten of the best books for young would-be astronauts.

Tim Peake, our astronaut on board the International Space Station, is currently sending breath-taking photographs from space each night. His regular link-ups with schools have helped generate a huge interest in space travel among the young, so it is perhaps no surprise that BfK’s call to publishers for books on space should have elicited such a strong response – a rocket-high pile of books soon mounted up. And there were many old favourites here, from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator to The Clangers (in a new picture-book format The Brilliant Surprise), from Tony Ross’s Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthlets to a new title in which Ross teams up with David Walliams in The First Hippo on the Moon.

Goodnight Spaceman

Michelle Robinson illus Nick East, Puffin, 978-0-1413-6562-6, £6.99 pbk

For the youngest would-be astronauts Goodnight

Spaceman provides the

perfect introduction to space travel. Two small boys dream of joining their astronaut dad on his adventures in space. It could only be Tim Peake, who pens a letter of introduction hoping that it may inspire the next generation ‘of boys and girls to look up at the stars and not just ask questions but to go and seek answers of their own’. On the face of it a simple bedtime story in catchy rhyme, but in fact there is plenty of science here, from lifting off, going into orbit, docking on to the space station and returning to Earth.

My Best-Ever Pop-Up Space

Book DK, 978-0-2412-0600-3, £12.99 hbk

My Best-Ever Pop-Up Space Book has a rocket sound-effect button to press as you journey through space from Planet Earth to Planet Mars.

Sturdy pop-up flaps enable

a spacesuited astronaut to loom above the page or the giant sphere of the Moon to emerge revealing the craters on its surface, while fold-out pages display the entire Solar System.

The Way Back Home

Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 978-0-0071-8232-9, £6.99 pbk

Many of the titles that arrived were positively shouting – ZOOM, blast-off, kerwoosh, awash with space pirates, rocket dinosaurs, cosmic hot dogs and hordes of stinky aliens, many wearing

underpants. For

some quiet respite and bedtime dreaming you could do no better than Oliver Jeffers’ The Way Back Home, the gentle story of a boy who finds himself stuck on the Moon but discovers he is not alone.


Jason Chin, Andersen Press, 978-1-7834-4197-6, £6.99

Jason Chin uses picture-book format to combine science and illustration in an imaginative way in Gravity as he explores the concept of gravity and what stops things floating away into space. He manages to make a complex subject understandable to a young audience almost entirely pictorially. Additional information is included in a final spread for those who want to learn more.

The Great Moon Confusion

Richard Byrne, Oxford Children’s Books, 978-0-1927-3504-1, £6.99 pbk

Adults will enjoy The Great Moon Confusion as much as younger readers as know-it-all Aldrin the raccoon poo-poos his more knowledgeable friends, the two bears Hubble and Lovell. Aldrin comes to quite the wrong conclusion about the diminishing Moon in the sky and learns not only humility but a great deal of science along the way.

UFO Diary

Satoshi Kitamura, Andersen Press, 978-1-8427-0591-9, £6.99 pbk

UFO Diary takes a different perspective as a lost alien craft zooms in for a closer look at a strange blue planet. There the UFO finds a curious creature watching it descend. The two become friends and explore the Earth and heavens together. The slow pace and dreamlike quality of the illustrations engenders a sense of wonder.

10 Books for Keeps No.218 May 2016

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32