Space

By: Will Osborne, Mary Pope Osborne

Series: The Magic Tree House Research Guides

Book Number: 6

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Synopsis

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Space is a non-fiction companion book to The Magic Tree House #8: Midnight on the Moon. In Space, Jack and Annie take the reader on a research mission that explores outer space. It begins with the history of astronomy including a look at a few famous astronomers such as Galileo and Copernicus, as well as how the telescope was invented. Then they take a look at the history of the universe based on the Big Bang Theory. This book explains what the sun is and how it gives heat and light to Earth as well as a brief explanation of eclipses. The longest chapter in the book is devoted to our solar system with an explanation of the differences between planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids, then has pages devoted to each individual planet in our solar system. Space then continues with a history of space travel including the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the first manned space missions, and the first moon landing. There is also more recent history of space travel that details the building of the various space stations including the International Space Station and the space shuttle. The final chapters explore what it is like to live and work in outer space, the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, and the potential future of space travel. Throughout the book Jack and Annie frequently present definitions and fun facts in the margins, and the book has lots of photos (black & white), illustrations and diagrams. At the end there are references to other books, museums and websites (though most of these links are out-of-date) where kids can do further research on space with additional information on how to do research. This book is fully indexed. I recommend this book for ages 5-8, but in my opinion, there is enough interesting material to engage readers at least up to age 10. 

Review

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Space presents a lot of interesting information about space in a fun, easy-to-read format that is accessible to younger readers. As a child, I was very interested in the solar system and space travel. For a time, I studied and followed space travel very closely, and this book was like a nice walk down memory lane. There were a few notable omissions from the book though, such as the Pioneer and Voyager interstellar space probes, Mars exploration (it was really only mentioned in the future of space travel), and the dangers of space travel such as what occurred with Apollo 1 & 13, and the space shuttles, Columbia and Challenger (there was only one brief mention of the Challenger explosion in a photo caption). I'm sure though that much of this was in deference to the younger readers for which the book was intended, so as not to present disturbing information and also to keep the book at a reasonable length so as not to loose the intended reader's attention. There is also the problem of the book becoming too quickly outdated, as many outer space related events have occurred since the publication of this book, such as the declassification of Pluto as a planet, the more successful Mars missions, the Columbia explosion, the continuing work and drama aboard the ISS, and the flights of privately funded space missions and tourists. I was generally able to overlook these downfalls though as I found the information that was presented in the book to be accurate and well done. I thought Space was a fun, informative read especially when taken in light of the age group for which it was intended. It is also great for parents and children to read-aloud together, an overall enjoyable book that I would definitely recommend.

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