Astral Analysis | Space Series Nonfiction

A commonality among the astronomy titles this season is that they all include high-quality, beautiful photographs and many try to communicate the unfathomable scale of size and distances in space along with the vast amounts of information we don’t yet know.

Space! It is both the final and most ­mysterious frontier. A commonality among the astronomy titles this season is that they all include high-quality, beautiful photographs and many try to communicate the unfathomable scale of size and distances in space along with the vast amounts of information we don’t yet know. Two titles focus entirely on the mysteries of the universe, and others, either in sections or as the main subject, look at how humans have imagined space in our mythology and pop culture. Titles aimed at the youngest readers appropriately emphasize the known facts over the unknown, and many include curriculum connections, activities, and other resources for educators.



Huddleston, Emma. Explore the Moon. ISBN 9781532195389.
––––. Explore the Planets. ISBN 9781532195396.
––––. Explore the Stars. ISBN 9781532195402.
––––. Explore the Sun. ISBN 9781532195419.
London, Martha. Explore Asteroids. ISBN 9781532195365.
––––. Explore the Milky Way Galaxy. ISBN 9781532195372.
ea vol: 32p. (Explore Space!). Abdo/Kids Core. Sept. 2021. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 2-4 –A well-organized astronomy overview for independent readers and report writers. Each title has three core chapters. The end of each chapter includes a prompt to either visit an ABDO website for more information or includes a sourced quote and asks readers to analyze the main idea being expressed and the supporting details. While there are many photographs and illustrations, some pages are entirely made up of text paragraphs. The large font keeps these text sections from being too intimidating. This series could be useful for developing new collections as its breadth covers the standard astronomy topics: the sun, the moon, our solar system’s planets, asteroids, our galaxy, and stars. Back matter sections include “Space Notes,” glossary, online resources, learn more, index, and about the author. VERDICT In-text writing, critical-thinking prompts, and curated links to additional activities and resources make this series a good resource for educators and homeschoolers.

Murray, Julie. Famous Space Missions. ISBN 9781098226251.
––––. History of NASA. ISBN 9781098226268.
––––. Outer Space on the Big Screen. ISBN 9781098226275.
––––. Space Pioneers. ISBN 9781098226282.
––––. SpaceX. ISBN 9781098226299.
––––. U.S. Space Force. ISBN 9781098226305.
ea vol: 24p. (Stellar Space). Abdo/Zoom/Dash!. Sept. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 1-2 –This is a high-interest early reader series with broad subject coverage. Each title includes three informative chapters and concludes with a list of facts or other related information that pertains to the subject (such as a list of space documentaries in Outer Space on the Big Screen). Full-color photographs take up the majority of the space in the books; each spread has a single paragraph of text. The strength of this series is the variety and uniqueness of the titles. U.S. Space Force is one of the first titles on the new branch of the military for this age range. A glossary, index, and online resources are included. VERDICT Recommended for any collections needing nonfiction early readers or titles on the specific subjects.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Barr, Catherine. Galaxy Voyage. ISBN 9781725331891.
––––. The Universe and Its Mysteries. ISBN 9781725331938.
––––. Voyage Among the Stars. ISBN 9781725331976.
––––. Voyage Through the Solar System. ISBN 9781725332010.
ea vol: 32p. (Space Voyage). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.25.
Gr 4-6 –A large amount of information is conveyed effectively in this visually appealing, infographic-style series. Each title contains between 10 and 13 image-heavy short chapters with large photos, diagrammed illustrations, and colorful text boxes. The series doesn’t follow a strict format; the title’s subject matter dictates how the information is presented, but all of the titles have engaging “Did You Know?” text boxes and a “Focus On” chapter. The only detraction is that the information presented in Voyage Through the Solar System does not stand out from other general titles on the solar system, but the other three titles are exceptional. A glossary, a “For More Information” page with print and web resources, and an index are included. VERDICT ­Recommended for elementary and middle schools as well as public libraries.

Downs, Mike. Bringing Space Home. ISBN 9781731649362.
––––. Imagining Space. ISBN 9781731649348.
––––. Investigating Space Mysteries. ISBN 9781731649355.
Santos, Tracie. Sleeping in Space. ISBN 9781731648921.
ea vol: 32p. (Reaching for the Stars). Rourke/High Tide. Aug. 2021. Tr. $27.50.
Gr 3-5 –This varied series covers practical applications of space technology, complications of doing everyday tasks in space, mysteries of space, and how humanity’s ideas about space have evolved. Each title starts with pre-reading instructions directed at adults and has three to four chapters of varying lengths organized into double-page spreads. Each spread is split by a diagonal line that makes the left page’s text area seem smaller and the photograph or photo-realistic artist’s rendition on the right side seem larger. Six vocabulary words are presented in the pre-reading section and bolded in the text with a glossary definition included somewhere on the same spread. The final pages include a one-page visual chapter on one side that features posters or diagrams with the back matter beginning on the other side. An activity, index, after-reading questions, and about the author section are included. VERDICT A strong addition for larger collections.

Although this season had only a few series, astronomy is a popular topic for publishers and readers. All the series are recommended for collections looking to update or expand this subject area, but there are highlights for those with budget or shelf space constraints.Galaxy Voyage, Voyage Among the Stars, and The Universe and Its Mysteries from “Space Voyage” (Rosen/PowerKids), and Bringing Space Home and Imagining Space from “Reaching for the Stars” (Rourke/High Tide) are the most engaging and informative titles for upper elementary/middle school readers. “Stellar Space” (Abdo/Zoom/Dash!) is also recommended as it serves dual purpose as a nonfiction and early reader series with contemporary and unique topics covered.

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