CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 38. . . . June 1, 2018
The factual content of Space is distributed over 10 pairs of facing pages with each pair’s content being focused on a single theme, those being: Men on the Moon; Astronaut Training; The Control Room; Lift Off; The Space Station; Life in the Space Station; Equipment; Spacewalk; Satellites and Space Probes; and Ideas for the Future. Americo’s cartoon style illustrations are gender and race inclusive.
The major weakness of Space is that, of its 10 paired pages, four contain images of an American Space Shuttle. The US Space Shuttle program, which had its first flight on April 12, 1981, and its last on July 8, 2011, was terminated at the end of August, 2011. Unfortunately, because the text does not employ the past tense in those places where a Space Shuttle is visible, the intended audience of young readers (who weren’t even born when the last Shuttle flew) might erroneous conclude that the Shuttle is still part of the American space program. Additionally, a small factual error occurs on the “Lift Off” pages (which must be rotated 90 degrees so that the Shuttle, mounted on its rocket engines, can be viewed in its appropriate “launch” position). There, readers are informed that “Solid white metal sheets protect the spacecraft from heat.” [emphasis in the original] In fact, the Space Shuttles was protected from heat by tiles largely made of silica fibers.
Content-wise, the “Life in the Space Station” and the spacesuit “Equipment” chapters are particularly informative and engaging. The short text blocks, averaging about seven per theme, occasionally appear beneath flaps that must be lifted in order for the text to be read. Additional reader-engagement features include tabs that must be pulled, pushed or rotated so that some feature of one of Americo’s illustrations moves. For example, on “The Control Room” pages, pulling a flap leads to a launch countdown (though the review copy wouldn’t get to zero) while pulling another flap saw the Shuttle begin its launch while a cheering engineer stood up. On “The Space Station” pages, pushing the Shuttle causes it to approach the space station. Lifting flaps on the Space Station, itself, exposes some of the station’s working areas.
Adult intervention may be necessary when introducing Space to the younger end of its intended audience as how to manipulate some of the reader-engagement features is not immediately obvious. The tab features of Space probably make it more a home purchase rather than an institutional one.
Recommended with Reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, CM,’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.