Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: Astrotwins -- Project Blastoff

This review marks the second in a series of posts on books I'm looking forward to in 2015.

The Stats: Astrotwins -- Project Blastoff by Mark Kelly and Martha Freeman, released March 24, 2015 from Simon & Schuster

The Synopsis: Twins Mark and Scott are on their summer vacation in the 1970s, and they can't seem to stop arguing and getting into trouble. That is, until their grandfather suggests they come up with a project and work together. The twins gather a group of old and new friends--including, gulp, GIRLS--in pursuit of their secret project: building and launching a rocket into space.

The Review: Astrotwins is a fun read for the third- to sixth-grade set, part realistic/historical fiction based on Kelly's childhood and part adventure/science fiction (just at the end). In addition to its can-they-do-it storyline, the book also includes some simple and factual descriptions of some of the math and physics that go into rocketry and space travel. While these scientific bits may seem a bit didactic to the adult reader, I think kids will mostly find them a useful explanation of what the twins and their friends are learning and building. While it's ultimately science fiction, this is a strong introduction to the realities of how space travel works.

Why I can't wait: I am all about STEAM, sure, but I am especially all about that space. I love that this book is co-authored by a real astronaut who quite obviously thought about being an astronaut when he and his twin were around the same age as the target reader for this book. We need books--stories, non-fiction, all of it--that emphasize how wondrous, exciting, and realistic science careers are. And think about this: NASA has set the goal to put people on Mars by 2035; that would mean that the kids in your library right now would be around the right age to qualify for the first manned mission to Mars. Wow.

Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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