Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Review - The Book of Space Rockets

The Book of Space Rockets (Clever Cogz)
by Neil Clark
Date: 2019
Publisher: QEB Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 24
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Join Cogz the Robot Dog and discover all about how space machines work, in this bright and fun STEM title. Cogz and his mice sidekicks, Nutty and Bolt, guide the reader through the workings of a rocket, looking closely at all the different parts and discovering information about real space missions and the spacecraft involved, including the Mars Rover and Apollo missions. Covering key STEM themes of engineering, physics, and inventions, and with a fun quiz to test young readers' knowledge, this book will get kids engaged and hands-on with learning. Bite-sized text and bright, informative illustrations introduce the transport topics in a simple, appealing way for young readers with a passion for vehicles and machines.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This little picture book about rockets and spacecraft isn't terrible, but it's overly sanitized and could lead to some uncomfortable questions.

The illustrations are decent and everything's easy to see. The rockets seem a little bit simplified, but for very young children, it's probably all right. The main problems I have come from the book's insistence on mentioning certain topics but not following up with the unpleasant truth. There's Laika, who's touted as the first dog in space. She's cheerily introducing herself to Cogz the dog. What's going to happen when kids find out she was shot into space, got overheated, and died within hours? There's a cheery bedtime story. Then there's the issue of the Space Shuttle program. We're told the shuttles were in use between 1981 and 2011... but there's no mention of why they stopped being used. Challenger and Columbia are ignored. (Now, I'm not saying that this book needs to go into all those grisly details, but curious kids may ask why Space Shuttles stopped being used. This book doesn't provide any answers.)

The layout is a little bit weird, as it doesn't go in chronological order. We learn about the lunar module, then satellites, then the Mars rover, then the ISS, then the Space Shuttle program... It might've worked better if these technologies had been discussed in the order they were developed. Also, it's mentioned that rockets are mostly single-use technology, ignoring recent developments in that area. Kids who are really into rockets are going to want to know why this book doesn't talk about things they may have seen on the news!

I'm also left wondering why the reference to the Canadarm isn't capitalized, but terms like "lunar module" are. Maybe the book needs another round of editing.

So, overall, while this isn't a bad book, it's a little too simplified in certain places (especially for its tech-savvy audience) and glosses over the dangers and failures of our explorations into space. It might be a good place to start, but kids who are really interested in this topic are going to want a lot more information.

Thank you to NetGalley and QEB Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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