Out of this World | Space Series Nonfiction

This season’s astronomy series feature new planet sets with individual titles for each of the eight planets in our solar system, fun-fact themed sets filled with high interest space trivia, introductory sets for independent readers or with adult-directed text, and a set full of the latest cutting-edge space technology projects. 


Astronomy books can be one of the most popular nonfiction subject areas in any library. NASA content is not subject to copyright, which means that space books often contain beautiful, high-quality, full-color photographs. And since earthlings are constantly making new discoveries and learning more, the titles need to be updated quite often. This season’s series feature new planet sets with individual titles for each of the eight planets in our solar system, fun-fact themed sets filled with high interest space trivia, introductory sets for independent readers or with adult-directed text, and a set full of the latest cutting-edge space technology projects. All the titles include at least a glossary and many have extensive back matter and activity ideas. Two series feature QR codes linking to online materials that can enhance the books’ usefulness as educator resources.



Bassier, Emma. Earth. ISBN 9781532169076.
––––. Jupiter. ISBN 9781532169083.
––––. Mars. ISBN 9781532169090.
––––. Mercury. ISBN 9781532169106.
––––. Neptune. ISBN 9781532169113.
––––. Saturn. ISBN 9781532169120.
––––. Uranus. ISBN 9781532169137.
––––. Venus. ISBN 9781532169144.
ea vol: 24p. (Planets). ABDO/ Pop!/Cody Koala. Dec. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 1-3 –A serviceable planet set with a lot of value added for educators and parents in the companion online resources. Each book has four chapters which introduce the planet, cover its placement in the solar system, the weather, day-length and year-length, and other special features such as moons or rings. The clean design is easy for newly independent readers to follow and the illustrations are appealing diagrams and dynamic photographs. Several pages incorporate QR codes that lead to different sections of a webpage. The web resources feature an animated video, links to NASA and other age-appropriate sites, PDF activity sheets, and lesson plans. A “making connections” section, glossary, index, and online resources are included. VERDICT Recommended as an educator resource.

Boutland, Craig. Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors. ISBN 9781781216071.
––––. Exploring Space. ISBN 9781781216095.
––––. The Inner Planets. ISBN 9781781216057.
––––. The Moon. ISBN 9781781216040.
––––. The Outer Planets. ISBN 9781781216064.
––––. The Sun and Other Stars. ISBN 9781781216088.
ea vol: 24p. (Space Detectives). Black Rabbit/Brown Bear. Jan. 2021. Tr. $29.95.
Gr 1-3 –Fun facts are the focus of this engaging series. Each book contains nine double-page spreads that include a “fact file” of two-to-five facts on a particular topic, one or two “mini fact” text boxes, and descriptive captions of all the full-color photographs and illustrations. The broad, somewhat surface-level information covered is full of interesting trivia that can get readers excited about astronomy, and could also be a useful resource for reports. There is a missed opportunity as the series’ “space detective” theme is never named in the text; it is only mentioned in the preface to the four-question quiz in the back matter. Useful words, a “find out more” section, and an index are included. VERDICT A fun addition to update science shelves.

Golusky, Jackie. Explore Earth. ISBN 9781728404080.
––––. Explore Mars. ISBN 9781728404103.
––––. Explore Neptune. ISBN 9781728404127.
––––. Explore Uranus. ISBN 9781728404141.
Milroy, Liz. Explore Jupiter. ISBN 9781728404097.
––––. Explore Mercury. ISBN 9781728404110.
––––. Explore Saturn. ISBN 9781728404134.
––––. Explore Venus. ISBN 9781728404158.
ea vol: 24p. (Lightning Bolt Books: Planet Explorer). Lerner. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.65.
Gr 1-2 –Each book in this reliable planet set for classrooms and elementary libraries has four chapters that follow the same structure. In chapter 1, the planet’s most distinguishing feature is introduced, it is placed in a solar system lineup, and its size is compared to Earth or the Sun. Chapter 2 covers the planet’s moon(s) or name origin in the case of moon-less Mercury and Venus. Chapter 3 reports on the weather conditions and day and year length, and chapter 4 is about the satellites and rovers that have or will explore each planet. Full-color photographs that take up at least half of each page and the large font size make this series welcoming to the youngest readers. A QR code in each book links to a 3-D image of the planet. Planet facts, glossary, “learn more” section, and an index are included. VERDICT Recommended for collections in need of refreshing.

Perdew, Laura. The Earth: One-of-a-Kind Planet. ISBN 9781619309814.
––––. The Moon: Small-but-Mighty Neighbor. ISBN 9781619309852.
––––. The Stars: A Gazillion Suns. ISBN 9781619309890.
––––. The Sun: Shining Star of the Solar System. ISBN 9781619309777.
ea vol: illus. by Shululu. 32p. (Picture Book Science). Nomad. Mar. 2021. Tr. $19.95.
K-Gr 2 –A narrative nonfiction set with visual appeal. The Universe, personified with a face and long, star-filled dark hair, narrates the titles, introducing early astronomy and Earth science concepts to earthlings. Two unnamed alien creatures provide additional commentary and comic relief. The cheerful illustrations, with a soft chalk-like texture, feature many anthropomorphic stars and planets that will appeal to fans of Stacy McAnulty’s similar series. Except for The Moon, each book closes with an environmentalist message about pollution, light pollution, or solar energy. An activity and glossary are included. VERDICT A good option for educators looking to incorporate narrative nonfiction into natural science and astronomy lessons.

Press, J.P. The Moon. ISBN 9781647475062.
Rose, Rachel. Planets. ISBN 9781647475079.
––––. Stars. ISBN 9781647475086.
––––. The Sun. ISBN 9781647475093.
ea vol: 24p. (Off to Space!). Bearport. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –An introductory astronomy set for the youngest readers. Most spreads have between one and four simple sentences on one side and a full-page color photograph (or photorealistic constructed image) on the other. Occasionally the text begins to present concepts that are more complicated, such as the lunar cycle or supernovas, but it is done without using any overly technical terms and is limited to the most basic explanation. The copyright page has a “teaching tips” section with suggested activities and questions for before, during, and after reading the book. A “fun facts” page containing three facts and a visual glossary with four-to-six entries on a single page is located toward the end of every title. Other back matter includes an index, “read more” and “learn more online” resources, and about the author sections. VERDICT An additional purchase for homeschooling collections and early elementary classrooms.

Regan, Lisa. Asteroids and Comets. ISBN 9781725320307.
––––. Astronaut Life. ISBN 9781725320147.
––––. Galaxies and Deep Space. ISBN 9781725320185.
––––. Life on Other Worlds. ISBN 9781725320222.
––––. Our Solar System. ISBN 9781725320260.
––––. The Stars. ISBN 9781725320345.
ea vol: 32p. (Fact Frenzy: Space). Rosen/PowerKids. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.25.
Gr 3-5 –An irreverent tone and bold graphic design elevate this humorous, fact-filled series. Each book has 10 two-page chapters with descriptive titles that will often amuse, like “comets are dirty space snowballs,” or intrigue, like “95% of the universe is missing.” Photographs and scientific illustrations are given cartoon expressions or are accompanied by comic-style speech bubbles with snarky commentary, which makes the large amount of information in each title more accessible and appealing to the target audience. An “even more facts” section, glossary, further information, and index are included. VERDICT An excellent choice for most nonfiction and browsing collections. Highly recommended.

Ringstad, Arnold. Asteroids, Meteorites, and Comets. ISBN 9781503844780.
––––. Dwarf Planets. ISBN 9781503844711.
––––. The Moon. ISBN 9781503844735.
––––. The Solar System. ISBN 9781503844759.
––––. Space Missions. ISBN 9781503844766.
––––. Stars. ISBN 9781503844773.
––––. The Sun. ISBN 9781503844728.
––––. UFOs and Aliens. ISBN 9781503844742.
ea vol: 24p. (Blast Off to Space). The Child’s World. Jan. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 2-4 –This eight-book series incorporates a broad range of subjects related to astronomy. Each book contains three or four chapters with many vibrant, full-page photographs. The length of the text and amount of data included in each title make it a good choice for first book reports or as a source for research projects. Space Missions is the only title in which the coverage is a bit superficial, possibly to sanitize it for the young audience. The first chapter, “Missions with People,” only offers success stories without any reference to the astronauts who have lost their lives. A glossary, “to learn more” and “Out of this world!” sections, and index are included. VERDICT The variety of the topics make this series a worthwhile purchase.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Adams, William D. Clockwork Venus Rover. ISBN 9780716662655.
––––. Expandable Space Habitat. ISBN 9780716662679.
––––. Fusion-Powered Spacecraft. ISBN 9780716662686.
––––. Leaping Low-Gravity Explorers. ISBN 9780716662631.
––––. Mars Exploring Flying Swarm. ISBN 9780716662662.
––––. Martian Cave Colonies. ISBN 9780716662693.
––––. Second-Skin Space Suit. ISBN 9780716662648.
––––. Solar-Surfing Space Probes. ISBN 9780716662624.
ea vol: 48p. (Out of This World). World Book. Mar. 2021. Tr. $219 (set).
Gr 4-7 –Meet eight inventors and learn about the cutting-edge innovations they are working on in this series about projects that are funded by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The NIAC program supports the development of new space technology, and this series packs in a lot of information about the unique problems of living in space, exploring Mars and Venus, and protecting humans and spacecraft from dangerous conditions while explaining the advances in STEM fields that are trying to solve these problems. The design of the book, with many large graphics dominating spreads and text blocks in manageable chunks, makes the material easier to process. Four “inventor features” in each title humanize the scientists. A glossary, “inventor challenge,” and index are included. VERDICT Recommended for upper elementary and middle school space buffs.

The top picks for this subject area are “Blast Off to Space” (The Child’s World), “Fact Frenzy: Space” (Rosen/PowerKids), and “Out of this World” (World Book). “Blast Off to Space” has the broadest subject coverage, and will be useful as a report resource and for independent reading. “Fact Frenzy: Space” is the most fun, with laugh-out-loud moments and eye-catching graphic design. The focus on new technology in “Out of this World” makes it extremely timely and the most interesting for readers who are looking for space books that go beyond the basics.

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