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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | outer space

When a Prince Needs a Mechanic

by Vic­ki Palmquist

Interstellar CinderellaWith a deft sto­ry and oth­er­world­ly art, Deb­o­rah Under­wood and Meg Hunt bring us Inter­stel­lar Cin­derel­la, a fresh and wel­come take on the famil­iar fairy tale with a bit of Andro­cles and the Lion and The Jet­sons thrown into the mix.

In this ver­sion, Cin­derel­la loves fix­ing any­thing mechan­i­cal. She has her own set of spe­cial tools, all care­ful­ly drawn and named on the end­pa­pers for the kids who love iden­ti­fy­ing things. Her com­pan­ion is a robot mouse, small and seem­ing­ly insignif­i­cant but he saves the day when the wicked step­moth­er tries to keep the Prince from see­ing Cin­derel­la.

The illus­tra­tor used “gouache, brush and ink, graphite, rubylith, and dig­i­tal process” to cre­ate a world that is read­i­ly iden­ti­fi­able as being set in the future, with touch­es of Ara­bi­an Nights and super­cool space­ships, which Cin­derel­la dreams of fix­ing when they break down.

When her fairy godro­bot (don’t you think she’s a nod to Rosie on The Jet­sons?) gives her a brand new space­suit and a pow­er gem to join the Prince’s Roy­al Space Parade, the Prince’s space­ship springs a leak and Cin­derel­la is there to fix it.

I took a “Pow­der­puff Mechan­ics” class when I was in col­lege (I didn’t name the class, folks), and I was mighty proud to be able to work on my own car. I know the thrill of fix­ing a leak and fig­ur­ing out how to get bet­ter per­for­mance out of an engine, so Cin­derel­la is my kind of gal.

I’m espe­cial­ly fond of the way this book ends. No spoil­ers here. Let’s just say that this isn’t your grandmother’s Cin­derel­la sto­ry. In a rhyming pic­ture book, the author cre­ates a hero­ine who is tal­ent­ed and wise. The book sparkles and crack­les with the pow­er of the stars. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed.

Inter­stel­lar Cin­derel­la, writ­ten by Deb­o­rah Under­wood, illus­trat­ed by Meg Hunt, Chron­i­cle Books, 2015



Literary Madeleine: Grasping at Stars

by Vic­ki Palmquist

How many chil­dren, over how many years, have learned from their par­ents to iden­ti­fy the stars that make up the Big Dip­per? Can you see them stand­ing out­side, point­ing to the stars in the dark sky, trac­ing the make-believe line that draws a saucepan in the heav­ens?

The Stars and Find the ConstellationsMy moth­er told me some of the sto­ries she knew about the con­stel­la­tions, about the Great Bear and Ori­on and Androm­e­da. When her sup­ply of knowl­edge (and inter­est) were exhaust­ed, she bought me Find the Con­stel­la­tions by H.A. Rey (yes, the author of the Curi­ous George books).

When I want­ed to know more, she bought me The Stars: a New Way to See Them, also by H.A. Rey.

Besides cre­at­ing books for chil­dren, the jack­et flap says Mr. Rey’s inter­ests “extend­ed from biol­o­gy and lan­guages (he was flu­ent in four and acquaint­ed with half a dozen more) to his­to­ry and, of course, astron­o­my.” Thank good­ness! He awak­ened that inter­est in me and I’m pret­ty sure dozens and dozens and hun­dreds of oth­er chil­dren. (And adults, go ahead, admit it.)

In Find the Con­stel­la­tions, which is updat­ed through 2016, you’ll find expla­na­tions that com­bine facts, and sto­ries, and sci­ence. Any­thing less would not be sat­is­fy­ing. Bet­ter yet, the man could draw, and his illus­tra­tions are light­heart­ed but sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly sound. When he draws a “Sky View” as though we were priv­i­leged to be inside the USA’s best plan­e­tar­i­um, we can see sea­son­al depic­tions of the way the stars appear in the sky, and the way they might appear in our brain, find­ing the con­stel­la­tions. There are charts and maps and tips for stargaz­ing.

Finding the Stars

In The Stars, we find a book for old­er chil­dren and adults. There are con­stel­la­tion charts with view­ing notes:

CRAB (CANCER): Faintest of all con­stel­la­tions in the zodi­ac. Its main attrac­tion is the so-called BEEHIVE, a small hazy spot [marked by a cross on the chart], just vis­i­ble with­out glass­es under best con­di­tions. Glass­es reveal a clus­ter of many faint stars.

Finding the ConstellationsThese are info­graph­ics at their best, long before we began using that term. The Cal­en­dar Charts show where the stars will be in the sky on a cer­tain day, at a cer­tain time. There are even lat­i­tu­di­nal charts so peo­ple in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try can more accu­rate­ly observe the stars.

The sec­ond half of the books includes more won­ders, includ­ing how stars die, the celes­tial clock, how the earth wob­bles on its axis, and how con­stel­la­tions have moved through the ages. When the right child finds this book, there is an astronomer in the mak­ing, whether as a pro­fes­sion or as a hob­by.

Wait! There’s more! If you buy the hard­cov­er of The Stars, you will find that the dust jack­et unfolds to a large poster of a Gen­er­al Chart of the Sky. I had this hang­ing on my bed­room wall through­out my child­hood. Is it any won­der I love read­ing sci­ence fic­tion? Check these books out of the library for your curi­ous child. When you find your­self con­sid­er­ing a tele­scope, it’s time to buy them for your own library.



Bookstorm: Lowriders in Space

Bookstorm: Lowriders in Space

In this Bookstorm™:

Lowriders in SpaceLowriders in Space

writ­ten by Cathy Camper
illus­trat­ed by Raul the Third
pub­lished by Chron­i­cle Books, 2014

Lupe Impala, El Cha­vo Flap­jack, and Elirio Malar­ia love work­ing with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, baji­to y suavecito. The stars align when a con­test for the best car around offers a prize of a trunk­ful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chi­huahua! What will it take to trans­form a junker into the best car in the uni­verse? Strik­ing, unpar­al­leled art from debut illus­tra­tor Raul the Third recalls ball­point-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doo­dles, while the sto­ry is sketched with Span­ish, inked with sci­ence facts, and col­ored with true friend­ship. With a glos­sary at the back to pro­vide def­i­n­i­tions for Span­ish and sci­ence terms, this delight­ful book will edu­cate and enter­tain in equal mea­sure.”

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book, Lowrid­ers in Space. You’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes, inter­ests, and read­ing abil­i­ties.

Car Mechan­ics. An assort­ment of books offer­ing details and info­graph­ics about how cars work and how to build a car, suit­able from pri­ma­ry to mid­dle school.

Draw­ing Cars. A lot of learn­ing takes place when you draw a car. A read­er thinks deeply about how the car works, how the parts inter-relate, and you are tempt­ed to look up the details to ver­i­fy that you’re get­ting it right.  

Graph­ic Nov­els. There’s a rich his­to­ry of space explo­ration and sci­ence fic­tion in graph­ic nov­els. We include a few stel­lar (ahem) exam­ples that are sure to intrigue your read­ers. 

Lowrid­ers. The lowrid­er cul­ture and the artis­tic, mechan­i­cal­ly-inven­tive cars are an intrin­sic part of life in some parts of the US. You’ll find web­sites and books that explain more.  

Nov­els. Sci­ence fic­tion for young read­ers isn’t plen­ti­ful, but there are excel­lent books in this genre. Our rec­om­men­da­tions include a clas­sic and sev­er­al new books. 

Out­er Space. For some read­ers, the facts about out­er space are para­mount. Books with an overview, stick­er books, up-to-date books about what we cur­rent­ly under­stand … these will inter­est those truth-seek­ers.

Pic­ture Books. Cars and stars are favorite sub­jects for pic­ture book authors and illus­tra­tors. You’ll want to dis­cuss some of these in your class­room and offer sug­ges­tions for oth­ers as books for inde­pen­dent read­ing.

Sci­ence. Study­ing the skies is a life­time of work for many sci­en­tists, and their fields of endeav­or are broad and touch upon oth­er areas of sci­ence. Their dis­cov­er­ies change lives. From books look­ing at the con­stel­la­tions to those answer­ing sci­ence ques­tions, we rec­om­mend a few gems to get you think­ing.

Women Chang­ing the World. Dolores Huer­ta, Sonia Sotomay­or, Rad Amer­i­can Women A-Z … Lupe Impala is inspi­ra­tional. She will nat­u­ral­ly lead to ques­tions about oth­er women who have set their sites on the stars.

Tech­niques for using each book:



Space Taxi

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight Wendy Mass and Michael Braw­er, illus by Elise Grav­el Lit­tle, Brown Books for Young Read­ers What a hoot! When eight-year-old Archie Morn­ingstar gets up ear­ly in the morn­ing for his first Take Your Kid to Work Day, he nev­er imag­ines that his taxi-dri­v­ing dad in their rick­ety cab is actu­al­ly […]