Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Science Fiction

Books from Quarantine: Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision

The Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision, by SJ King, (July 2020, DK), $5.99, ISBN: 978-0744021066

Ages 7-10

This is the second book in an upcoming new series from DK; the first, The Secret Explorers and the Lost Whales, also publishes on July 7, 2020. Perfect reading for kids who loved Little Einsteins, Octonauts, or Wild Kratts when they were younger, these chapter books introduce a group of Secret Explorers – kids who specialize in different areas of the sciences – who go on secret missions to gather knowledge and solve a big problem. In Comet Collision, two explorers, Roshni and Ollie, have to work together when they’re sent into space to fix a broken space probe by the planet Jupiter. A comet is set to collide with the planet and will wipe out all the probe’s important data if they don’t fix it in time, so they have to work together and work fast!

Loaded with adventure, facts, and fast-paced reading, this is a fun new STEM-based series for readers. You don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this one (I picked this up at ALA Midwinter, and thought it was the first in the series until I finished it and saw the “2” on the spine). The kids play with cool technology, are specialists in different areas of science, and take readers to space and beyond. This will be a good series to fit with the Imagine Your Story Summer Reading theme this year, too – ask your readers to think of their favorite type of science (or give them one to explore) and ask them to imagine their story as a scientist in space, in a rain forest, in a lab, anywhere. Black and white cartoony artwork throughout helps place readers on a spacewalk and at the controls of a spaceship. The cast of characters is multicultural, from all over the world.

Invite kids to learn more about space probes from NASA, and about Jupiter and the other planets here.

Posted in Preschool

Faraway Friends: A far-out adventure that takes place on Earth!

faraway friendsFaraway Friends, by Russ Cox (2015, Sky Pony Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781632204080

Recommended for ages 3-7

Sheldon’s friend is moving – possibly, to Jupiter! What’s a kid to do? Why, build a rocketship and blast off to visit!

Faraway Friends is a great blending of realistic and fantasy for young kids. You’ve got the story of loss, when Sheldon’s friend moves away, as the frame. Within that frame, you have Sheldon and his first-mate, Jet the Dog, building a rocketship to head out to the stars, explore, and go for a visit. Finally, you have the beginning of a new friendship – with an alien?!

This book is adorable. Russ Cox’s artwork is exciting and fun, with action and movement. Jet the Dog’s facial expressions and thought bubbles make him the best part of this story for me. Sheldon’s decision to take action as part of his dealing with his friend moving away is a great way to illustrate the concept of moving on and forming new friendships. The basic text is unintrusive and perfect for a read-aloud, and the countdowns to blastoff provide fun opportunities to get little listeners involved in the book.

I read this story to my three preschool classes, who loved the book and wanted me to read it again and again. What a home run! This one’s going on the shelves for Summer Reading, no question about it.

Enjoy the book trailer for Faraway Friends, and then go get your own copy – it’s on shelves now!