I need a better title or a better way to categorize this type of book: Back in September of 2011 I reviewed five books which I awkwardly called “nonfiction picture books that read like story books,” and I have two more for you today. These nonfiction books have cartoonish artwork and story-like text, so while they are factual, they’re not encyclopedic, and are a good read for young kids.
Welcome to astronaut school! If you have a youngster who wants to be an astronaut, this book can serve as a good introduction to what it takes to be an astronaut and the type of training they need.
It’s gauged for ages 3-7, or Preschool to Grade 2, so don’t expect volumes of information. With cute, cartoonish art, it mentions different types of astronaut jobs, some of the training they
undergo, and some of the skills and qualities they should have. It also includes information on food in space as well as diagrams of a space toilet and a space suit.
As I write this, there are 13 reviews on Amazon.com, and they are all 5-star reviews.
Pluto’s Secret was published in March of 2013 for ages 5-9 or Kindergarten to Grade 4. With cartoonish art throughout, one might expect the text to be a little more story-like or silly, but it’s not. It is nonfiction and tells the story of Pluto’s discovery and the controversy over what Pluto is—planet or something else—after more Kuiper Belt Objects were found.
At times I felt the art and text to be incongruous—that at times the text was clunkier than the artwork would lead us to expect, but that’s aesthetic snobbery on my part that didn’t matter at all to my kids.
Humor does come in when Pluto (personified) responds to suggestions of names after its discovery (Minerva? Certainly not!), when Pluto is characterized as dancing with its moons (Cha-cha-cha), and when Pluto has fun being different from the other planets.
The author keeps to the IAU (International Astronomical Union) definition of dwarf planet and doesn’t touch on the dissension among astronomers over the definition, nor that Quaoar (featured on page 23 in an illustration) did not make the dwarf planet list, nor that Makemake is a dwarf planet, nor that Ceres in the Asteroid Belt is a dwarf planet. So this book doesn’t cover dwarf planets or the Kuiper Belt in detail—you would need other sources if your child is doing a report—but it covers the topic of Pluto’s discovery and status pretty well, and is informational in a fun, story-like way. The book also includes a two-page spread in back with photographs and additional information. My astronomonsters enjoyed this as a bedtime story.