10 Space Poems

Chosen by Gaby Morgan, Macmillan, 978-0-3304-4057-8, £4.99 pbk

Poetry offers another approach to inspire space explorers. The selection of poems chosen by Gaby Morgan in Space Poems includes contributions from Wendy Cope, John Rice and Brian Moses amongst others. All five verses of Jane Taylor’s poem ‘The Star’, now universally known as the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ are included here, as well as a 21st-century version

‘Constant, Constant Little Light’ dedicated to a satellite.

The Usborne Official Astronaut’s Handbook

Louie Stowell, ill. Roger Simo, Usborne, 978-1-4095-9074-3, £6.99 pbk

But for those who really want to know what life is like on the Space Station, The Usborne Official Astronaut’s Handbook includes everything from training tips and spacewalk hints to (yes, you guessed) how to go to the loo in space. We learn about the very gruelling process of astronaut selection and training from spells in a simulator to flights in the ‘Vomit Comet’ as part of zero-gravity training. There is lots of lovely detail such as information about the toy that hangs from the cockpit roof of the module on a launch (usually cuddly and fluffy and chosen by the Commander’s children) to show when they have reached zero gravity and are officially in space, as well as description of daily life on board the Space Station and the many different scientific experiments carried out in weightless conditions. Tim Peake is here again, writing a personal message to would- be astronauts. The book is published with support from the ESA (European Space Agency) and the UK Space Agency, one of whose stated aims is to inspire the next generation of UK scientists and engineers.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

Frank Cottrell Boyce, ill. Steven Lenton, Macmillan, 978-0-2307-7137-6, £12.99 hbk

There is a rich seam to mine of fiction on the theme of space, with authors ranging from Philip Reeve to Malorie Blackman, but for laugh-out loud hilarity it is hard to better Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth. Inspired by the memory of Soviet Space Dog Laika, shot up into space in 1957, Boyce imagines what might have happened if she had survived and someone found her. That someone is Sputnik, the small loud alien in a kilt who befriends Prez, a boy in care, but who everyone else thinks is a dog. Together they must create a list of reasons why the Earth must be saved. Beyond the madcap wacky adventure the book explores themes of the infinite size of the universe, the unique quality of our planet, the importance of home and family.

Knowledge Encyclopedia Space! DK, 978-0-2411-9630-4, £16.99 hbk

So if all these titles have whetted the appetite, then you need a really solid reference

volume on space and one

which is up to date in this ever-changing field. In DK’s Knowledge Encyclopedia Space! large-scale artwork illustrations are combined with NASA and Hubble Telescope photographs and computer-generated imagery to provide an extraordinary visual guide to everything from the big bang to black holes, from nebulae to neutron stars. There are sections on understanding the universe as well as navigating the night sky with star maps and comprehensive information on the constellations.


impressive reference section reveals that a well-laid-out printed page can be so much more useful than scrolling endless screens online.

Sue Unstead has a background in children’s non-fiction publishing and was children’s publisher of DK before becoming a full-time author.

Books for Keeps No.218 May 2016 11

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