A Visual Encyclopedia
Gr 4—6—An eye-catching, if not exemplary, alternative for older single-volume compendia on the extraterrestrial universe such as David A. Aguilar's Planets, Stars, and Galaxies (National Geographic, 2007). Space is a substantial outing that wedges hundreds of digestible blocks of text in at least three different type sizes and levels of detail on or around a huge array of space photos and art. Presented largely in the customary single-topic spreads, coverage is very broad, ranging from the practice of astronomy and the history of our ventures into space to the components of the solar system and of the cosmos at large. Earth, the Moon, and the Sun come in for full sections of their own, topics of recent interest such as "Space Tourism" and "Space Debris" earn spreads, and the information is current enough to include a reference to the mid-2009 installation of a new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope. The pictures are total eye candy, sharply reproduced on black backgrounds, varying in size from a few inches square to dramatic full spreads, and offering everything from sky maps and deep-space fields millions of light years across to cutaway views of spacecraft and close-ups of astronaut food. Still, that level of visual appeal is now common in nonfiction, the amount of material here that is new or not easily available elsewhere is relatively small, and the lack of any resource lists make this more suitable for casual enquiry and browsing than systematic study.—John Peters, formerly at New York Public Library

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