BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System (available here)
Author: Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock
Illustrator: Chelen Ecija
Publisher: Buster Books
Publication Date: October 2019
Reviewed by: Jane Carter, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is an inspiration! Her hugely successful academic career, commitment to exploring all things to do with space and her abilities to communicate complex ideas to children, are all evident in this book.
This non-fiction text is presented as a 'grand tour' that children are invited to go on at the start of the book. The introduction provides an excellent overview of the Solar System as well as introducing Dr Maggie as the tour guide. These first few pages signpost children to the different features of the book, including ‘tour highlights’ that can be found in black circles; stats boxes for each planet and a really helpful section at the back of the book called the ‘Ship’s Database’. This is like an enhanced glossary with information set out clearly and accessibly, including a really useful list of ‘space words’, to which I referred regularly as I read the book. There is also a double-page spread entitled ‘how the tour works’ and this guides the reader in how the rest of the book is ordered.
I particularly liked the section of the book that explained how objects get into space as opposed to getting into orbit. As you read this book you feel that many of the questions you didn’t even know you had about space are being answered! The rest of the book’s sections provide vast amounts of information about the planets and stars in the solar system, communicated in a very accessible way. The print is large and the font clear and this, alongside the vibrant illustrations enable even the youngest reader to navigate this book.
As with any good non-fiction book, a child could easily focus on just one aspect, such as a single planet of interest, and use the index to locate the pages that help answer their questions. Some of the ideas explored are quite complex – why seasons are different on Mars; belts of gas on Jupiter; a six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole and oxygen in the exosphere of Callisto (one of Jupiter’s moons) but each is explained clearly with helpful pictures and text.
The glue that holds this book together is the idea of the ‘grand tour’ and the narration of Dr Maggie of each approach and landing. This is a book that will inspire children to emulate her and, as a woman of colour this is particularly welcome.
The publishers of Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System have put together a set of teaching resources to use with the book.
You can order Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System online or from your local bookshop or library.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jane for reviewing it.
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