By Dom Conlon, illustrated by Heidi Cannon, published by UCLan.
Ten-year-old Matilda is a girl with one big mission – she wants to go to the moon. She’s determined to get there and uses the book as a way of planning her tip and entering all the knowledge she has gained – air pressure, velocity, coding and a few more trivial but important facts such as how you pee in space! The question is will she really get there?
Dom Conlon’s book holds a unique place in children’s literature at present, straddling fiction and fact brilliantly. Through Matilda’s musings, we learn effortlessly about complicated matters such as the conservation of angular momentum (how energy behaves while in motion around an object), the Karman line (where space officially begins – at 100,000m), and how the 99.999% chance of safety on a space mission is not actually very good! The book is packed full of fascinating facts like this, as well as details of important people who made space flight happen – not just the astronauts but the teams on the ground and the scientists who, for many years, have added their knowledge to the world of physics, amongst others.
Heidi Cannon’s illustrations add a lively feel to a book that is already approachable to read and will appeal to children who like a nice blend of images and words, rather like a traditional ‘diary style’ but done in a different, non-date-ordered way.
A great way to find out about space and all the difficult knowledge surrounding it, without having to plough through difficult science, this is sure to be a blast! The book sits nicely alongside UCLan’s excellent history of the first NASA lunar landing Blast Off to the Moon! which was produced in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) and NASA.
The next two books are from Barrington Stoke, which is producing so many wonderful titles for children. I know some parents worry if their child borrows a book with larger print or different fonts that this somehow indicates a lack of proficiency in reading but, while the books are primarily targeted at children with dyslexia or who are reluctant readers, they can sit alongside any ‘mainstream’ titles as excellent stories written by highly regarded authors. I enjoy these stories immensely and some of the best books I’ve read recently come from this publishing house. So, the point I am trying to make in a rather clumsy way, is don’t dismiss these books for being too easy or different – they’re amazing!