I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz Logsted

I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz Logsted

I Love You, Michael Collins 

by Lauren Baratz Logsted

Readers ages 8-12

I didn’t want to like this book.  Other readers’ reflections had created a bit of bias, and I was prepared to be equally (if not more so) critical.

Lucky for me, I opened the cover and let myself slip into the 1969 world of 10 year old Mamie.  Before Snapchat,  Google or the 24 news cycle. When the humble analog letter was the way we connected, and shared our thoughts and feelings.  

Mamie’s story unfolds in parallel with the historic Apollo 11 launch, the flight to the moon, the first walk, and splash down; connected through her letters to astronaut Michael Collins.

As the mission timeline moves along, we learn that Mamie’s parents are not happy. And when Mamie’s mother walks out and her family begins to disintegrate, she relates to the loneliness and responsibility that Collins must feel in his role as the lone caretaker of his ship.

Since we all know the Apollo 11 story, I’ll not fill this review with spoilers about Mamie’s. What I can say is that I loved Mamie’s voice, heart and bravery and I long for a friend as steadfast as Buster, her neighbor and confidant. And even though Michael Collins is a far-away hero to us and to Mamie, he has a powerful, familiar presence in the story.

Lots of fun references to products and styles bring 1969 to life alongside plenty of narrative allowing us to relive one of the greatest adventures of all time as a 10 year old might have experienced it then.

This book has a lot of awards and endorsements and I’ll add my enthusiastic recommendation as well.

Astrotwins – Project Blastoff by Mark Kelly with Martha Freeman

Astrotwins – Project Blastoff by Mark Kelly with Martha Freeman

Astrotwins – Project Blastoff 

by Mark Kelly with Martha Freeman

Readers ages 8-12

This has been an exciting summer celebrating the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and I am really enjoying reading and reviewing books related to space. Here’s the latest. Enjoy!

“Former astronaut Kelly takes a cool biographical fact—he and his identical twin brother, Scott, are the only siblings ever to fly in space—and spins it into an absorbing adventure.” Kirkus Reviews

 A summer visit with Grandpa starts the journey to space for eleven-year-old twins Mark and Scott Kelly. To keep the mischievous boys occupied, Grandpa suggests they build a spaceship and the idea sticks. The boys recruit some pals along the way and the story of an epic summer quest unfolds.

 What I love about this story? Definitely the science that the reader learns alongside the characters is an interesting, contextual way to slip in some knowledge building. The teamwork of the characters is a favorite piece for me, as each contributes and is valued according to his/her strengths – a theme that also runs through astronaut-author Kelly’s Moustronaut picture book series.

 Lastly, the book takes us back to 1975 before “google it” was the standard way to begin a search for information, when calls outside a local area had a surcharge and calculators were expensive tools, not a free phone app.

 A solid summer read and possibly, the inspiration for the next generation of space explorers.

Life On Mars by Jon Agee

Life On Mars by Jon Agee

Life On Mars

by Jon Agee

Picture book for ages approximately 4-8

Published January 1, 2017

Young children are curious and creative in their quest to understand the universe, and Jon Agee has drawn an absolutely charming story of the ageless question, “is anybody out there?” 

In LIFE ON MARS, a young astronaut lands on Mars in search of life. Our fearless little explorer sets off from his spaceship with a box of cupcakes (a gift for whomever or whatever he might encounter) and starts his trek across the beautifully drawn, desolate landscape of the red planet.

As he hikes along, what he can’t see is the tall, pointy-eared Martian hovering in the background, and we are “in on the joke” as it follows the boy on his quest. The next details of the story include a yellow flower and the aforementioned cupcakes, however, if the two meet is for you to discover! 

Obviously, evidence does not support the presence of a giant cuddly creature on Mars (or yellow flowers) and that may be a problem for some. Yet evidence did not support the veracity of the adventures of Buck Rogers or the fantastic voyages of Jules Verne, which inspired many of the early astronauts and NASA engineers to pursue the stars.

For myself, I love the whimsical adventure story – particularly the lovely detail of our voyager packing cupcakes to offer in greeting. The book also subtly delivers the message that there is power and satisfaction in pursuing the answers to your most important questions, which if instilled early, can inspire a life-long learner.