Review Blog

Jan 22 2013

Rocket into space! by Ragbir Bhathal & Johanna Davids

cover image

National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2012. Unpaged. Hardback.
(Age: 3-10) Recommended. This book is a pleasant surprise and much more than I expected from the title. I enjoyed the creativity generated through the collaboration of Ragbir Bhathal, an astrophysicist; Johanna Davids, an early childhood educator; and the National Library of Australia, as a National Year of Reading 2012 project. They challenge children's curiosity about the universe, in which they live. This publication is well-written, thoughtful and never patronising.
The adventure begins with Maddy and Jack as they set off on a rocket journey through space. There are plenty of fascinating facts eg for the 4 gas giant planets of our solar system we are given the distance from the sun, time to go around the sun, average temperature at cloud tops and atmospheric composition. As one would expect from a 2012 publication the planetary astronomy is up-to-date and poor Pluto is missing from the featured planets.
Quality production and design have been paramount. The predominantly blue and silver cover is inviting, attractive... even glamorous. The illustrations are colourful with rich, natural colours being used to create the ambience of the world beyond our earth.
There are wheels, tabs and flaps to physically engage the young child in the journey with Maddy, Jack and their red rocket ship. It is not a board book, but the pages and movable parts are made from strong card for little hands to manipulate. Fun projects include Make a solar system mobile; Make a crater; and Day and night. Activities include Name a comet and E. T.
There are extras, too, including information about Astronomy resources in the NLA. At this point it would have been useful to have clear directions to the NLA website for research purposes. There is a comprehensive list acknowledging images used in the book, but at times it is difficult to ascertain which image belongs to which acknowledgement. Page numbers in this section are not helpful, as the book is unpaged.
It is suitable for children aged 3-10 years, as a gift or as a special Library resource.
Margaret Strickland

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