Tag Archives: astronomy

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin. May 23, 2017. Amistad, 240 p. ISBN: 9780062665928.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6; Lexile: 1020.

Meet Leland Melvin—football star, NASA astronaut, and professional dream chaser.

In this inspiring memoir, adapted from the simultaneous version for adults, young readers will get to learn about Leland Melvin’s remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station to writing songs with will.i.am, working with Serena Williams, and starring in top-rated television shows like The Dog WhispererTop Chef, and Child Genius.

When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world.

He joined NASA, braved an injury that nearly left him permanently deaf, and still managed to muster the courage and resolve to travel to space on the shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland’s problem-solving methods and can-do attitude turned his impossible-seeming dream into reality.

Leland’s story introduces readers to the fascinating creative and scientific challenges he had to deal with in space and will encourage the next generation of can-do scientists to dare to follow their dreams. With do-it-yourself experiments in the back of the book and sixteen pages of striking full-color photographs, this is the perfect book for young readers looking to be inspired.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism, Hazing, Murder

 

Book Trailer

Author Talk

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
Memoir of an astronaut whose road to space took an unusual twist—through the National Football League.Rewritten for younger audiences, this version of Melvin’s simultaneously publishing memoir for adults not only retraces his development from “a skinny black kid” who wanted to be the next Arthur Ashe to an engineer who flew on two space-shuttle missions, but is even capped with a trio of science projects. Though he pushes the conventional platitude that “hard work and dedication are all you need to succeed,” his experiences point more to the value of being ready to take full advantage of second chances when they come along—which they did in his (brief) NFL career, in college after he was suspended for (inadvertent, in his view) cheating, and later at NASA in the wake of a training injury that left him partially deaf. He has also enjoyed a second career as a speaker, educator, TV host, occasional poet, and songwriter with Pharrell and other musicians. Religious faith and racism sound occasional notes in his account, the latter underscored by a picture of his otherwise all-white astronaut class in one of the two photo sections, but he devotes warmer attention to tributes to his mentors, colleagues, role models—and, oddly, his dogs, whose lives and deaths make up much of what he has to say about his adult private life. A detailed picture of astronaut training and work, threaded on a decidedly unusual storyline. (Memoir. 11-14)

About the Author

A former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Leland Melvin is an engineer and NASA astronaut. He served on the space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist and was named the NASA Associate Administrator for Education in October 2010. He also served as the cochair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force, developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. He is the host of the Lifetime show Child Genius and a judge for ABC’s BattleBots. He holds four honorary doctorates and has received the NFL Player Association Award of Excellence. He lives in Lynchburg, Virginia.

His website is www.lelandmelvin.com

Around the Web

Chasing Space on Amazon

Chasing Space on Goodreads

Chasing Space on JLG

Chasing Space Publisher Page

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Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar

Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar. May 30, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780451476852.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1070.

Travel the near and far reaches of the solar system in this lively, beautifully illustrated Smithsonian nonfiction book!

Ready for a wondrous celestial journey? How about a trip to our close neighbor Mars, home to the largest volcano in the solar system? Or to Europa, a watery lunar world with a really deep ocean? Or beyond the beyond to mysterious Planet 9, an unseen giant lurking in the far outer regions of space?

This extraordinary book puts you right there: breaking through colorful gaseous hazes; exploring the surface of red-hot or ice-cold planets; hurtling through rings of flying, frozen ice chunks; and rocketing on out to deep space. Astronomer David Aguilar is our navigator on these seven wonderful trips through our solar system—journeys that someday may actually happen!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

 

About the Author

David A. Aguilar  is an astronomer, artist, author of several notable books on space for children, including Cosmic Catastrophes: Seven Ways to Destroy a Planet Like Earth. He is the former Director of Science Information for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. As a member of the New Horizons Spacecraft Team, he handled the media coverage of the Pluto fly-by. He lives with his wife outside Aspen Colorado, where he’s built his own observatory. Asteroid 1990 DA was named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union.

David and wife Shirley reside outside Aspen, CO.

His website is davidaguilar.org.

Around the Web

Seven Wonders of the Solar System on Amazon

Seven Wonders of the Solar System on Goodreads

Seven Wonders of the Solar System on JLG

Seven Wonders of the Solar System Publisher Page

Exoplanets by Karen Latchana Kenney

Exoplanets: Worlds Beyond Our Solar System by Karen Latchana Kenney. March 1, 2017. Twenty First Century Books, 88 p. ISBN: 9781512400861.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1120.

As of March 2016, planetary scientists have discovered almost 2,000 exoplanets – planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. Readers will learn about high-powered orbiting telescopes such as NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope; observatories such as the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland; and upcoming missions such as the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, all of which aid scientists in their work to discover more solar systems and exoplanets. Profiles of and quotes from top planet hunters include those of Debra Fischer, Gordon Walker, and Geoffrey Marcy, among others.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))
Grades 8-11. As space exploration technology steadily advances, astronomers are discovering vast new reaches of space, and this slim, accessibly written volume sheds some light on a particularly thrilling area of research: planets far outside our solar system. After a tidy history of our ever-expanding understanding of the universe, Kenney clearly explains the many ways exoplanets are detected and some of the limitations of current tools and methods. The real star of the show, though, is the mind-­boggling number of exoplanet discoveries—more than 3,000 confirmed—and the wild variety of planets scientists have found, such an exoplanet with so little density it could float in water. The implications of these discoveries, such as habitable planets and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, will likely dazzle the imaginations of space-mad students, and a closing chapter on the future of exoplanet research, including citizen science projects accessible to anyone with a home computer, puts the science easily in reach of enterprising teens. Though the text is occasionally dry, illustrations, photos, diagrams, and the fascinating content add plenty of verve.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
An enticing overview of tools, techniques, and discoveries in what the author rightly characterizes “a red-hot field in astronomy.”Alas; it is perhaps too red-hot. Not only is Kenney’s count of accepted and potential exoplanets (as of May 2016) well out of date already, but her claim that “Wolf-1061” (sic: that’s actually the name of the star and its system) is the nearest Earthlike planet in the habitable “Goldilocks Zone” has been trumped by the recent discovery of a closer candidate orbiting Proxima Centauri. Still, along with describing in nontechnical terms each tool in the researcher’s kit—from space- and ground-based telescopes of various types to instruments that detect subtle stellar wobbles, spectrum changes, microlensing, and other telling signs—the author fills in the historical background of exoplanet research and profiles some of its weirder findings. She also casts side glances at extremophile life on Earth and other, at least tangentially related, topics. The small format gives the assortment of photos, artists’ renditions, diagrams, and generic star fields a cramped look, but readers curious about how researchers could possibly detect such dinky, distant objects as planets belonging to other star systems will come away satisfied and intrigued. A concise companion and update to Vicki Oransky Wittenstein’s Planet Hunter (2010). (index, source notes, bibliography, websites) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

My favorite book as a child was an educational book titled I Want to Be a Reporter. It was about the job of a reporter and described the skills needed to tell stories in writing. I asked my mom to read it to me every night. It was fascinating to me! Since discovering that book, I have loved the idea of writing for a living.

As a K-12 educational writer and editor, I get to work on books and teaching materials that inform and inspire students. I have written about everything from the underwater home of a spider to the history of hip-hop music and WWI history. While I love researching and writing about all kinds of subjects, my experience so far has been mostly in science, social studies, biographies, music, and arts and crafts topics.

Her website is latchanakenney.wordpress.com.

Teacher Resources

Exoplanets Lesson Plans from NOVA

Around the Web

Exoplanets on Amazon

Exoplanets on Goodreads

Exoplanets on JLG

Exoplanets Publisher Page

Mission to Pluto by Mary Kay Carson

Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt by Mary Kay Carson. January 10, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544416710.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 940.

In July of 2015 a robotic spacecraft reached Pluto after a nine-and-half-year journey. New Horizons is the first spacecraft mission to Pluto and revealed its five moons as never before seen. Images from the mission show a reddish surface covered in ice-water mountains, moving glaciers, and hints of possible ice volcanoes and an underground ocean. Pluto is geologically alive and changing!

This addition to the Scientists in the Field series goes where no person or spacecraft has ever gone before. Follow along with the team of scientists as they build New Horizons, fly it across the solar system, and make new discoveries about a world three billion miles away.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 5-8. This thrillingly up-to-date entry in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series traces the history and progress of the exploration of Pluto, with special attention paid to the recent and still ongoing flyby mission, New Horizons. Bolstered by excited interviews with some of the scientists and engineers involved in the New Horizons mission, Carson covers the inception of the project, the construction of the probe, the physics gymnastics involved in collecting data once it finally arrived, and some of the groundbreaking discoveries garnered from those findings. Carson’s descriptions of the concepts are crystal clear and nicely supported by the many color photographs, plenty of which are part of the trove of photos taken by the probe, and diagrams charting, among other things, the probe’s path, Pluto’s geological makeup, and the solar system far beyond the usual eight planets. This enthusiastic, accessible look at both cutting-edge scientific discovery and the dynamic work behind the scenes will be an easy sell to space-mad kids and a valuable addition to any school library.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2016)
A team effort sends a space probe to the edge of our solar system.When New Horizons flew by Pluto and sent home data and images in 2015, it was the culmination of a 26-year campaign (and a nine-year journey) and the first-ever exploration of that far-distant ice dwarf planet. Science writer and self-described “space geek” Carson and her photographer husband introduce their comprehensive description of this collaborative mission by showing the jubilant scene at the mission operations center as the spacecraft revealed its first close-up images. Then, chapter by chapter, they explain its purpose; the makeup of the craft and the instruments it carries; the journey across the solar system to Pluto, which was demoted from planet to dwarf planet during the 9 years but turned out to have 4 more moons than previously thought; some major discoveries from this first encounter; and the continuation of the mission into the Kuiper belt of small planets. Sidebars and longer sections called “Mission Briefs” provide additional information. The author’s enthusiasm shines through her clear, conversational narrative, and she quotes from personal interviews as well as press conferences and releases, extending the book’s intimacy. Uhlman’s well-captioned photographs of the team members (mostly white and male) are nicely mixed with photos from NASA and elsewhere and occasional digital illustrations. A worthy companion to Catherine Thimmesh’s Team Moon (2006) with similar appeal. (glossary, web resources, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Mary Kay Carson is an award-winning children’s nonfiction author. She has written more than thirty books for young people about wildlife, space, weather, nature, and history. Her recent non-fiction titles include Emi and the Rhino Scientist, about the Cincinnati Zoo’s famous rhino mom; Exploring the Solar System, recipient of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Children’s Literature Award; The Wright Brothers for Kids; Inside Tornadoes; and the Far-Out Guide to the Solar System series. The author also gives presentations at schools and libraries about space, animals, history, and writing.

Her website is www.marykaycarson.com.

Teacher Resources

Mission to Pluto Discussion and Activity Guide

New Horizons “Plutopalooza” Toolkit — extensive resources on the Pluto mission.

Around the Web

Mission to Pluto on Amazon

Mission to Pluto on Goodreads

Mission to Pluto on JLG

Mission to Pluto Publisher Page