Children’s Book News: July 2019

Pi in the Sky

by Wendy Mass

Suggested ages: 9-12 years

This is a science fiction tale set in The Realm where Joss and his six brothers, sons of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe, reside.  Earth has suddenly vanished and Josh has found himself responsible for the seemingly impossible task of restoring earth, as well as the rest of its solar system.  As a result of earth’s disappearance, Annika finds herself as the sole earthling in The Realm.  She joins Josh in the quest for rebuilding all as it once was.  Young readers will enjoy the witty dialogue and the light humor throughout, as well as the suspense.  An impressive aspect of Pi in the Sky, is Mass’s ability to skillfully intertwine scientific facts related to the origin and evolution of the universe as she spins this fictional tale.  In addition, each chapter begins with a significant quote from such luminarias as Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein.  Words of Lawrence M. Krauss, physicist, begin Chapter 18 – Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded.  And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand.”   Though there are fictional miracles that occur in Pi in the Sky perhaps the ones to be most in awe of are those which are a part of our very own universe.

The Stuff of Stars

by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Suggested ages: 4-8 years

The Stuff of Stars is a stunning work of visual art combined with poetic text.  The gorgeous artwork by Ekua Holmes consists of vivid hand-marbled paper and collage. Concise, lyrical phrases accompany the illustrations which portray the creation of the universe beginning with scenes representing a dark vastness.  Soon the pages explode with color as the Big Bang is depicted and the universe is created.  Then follows the formation of stars and later stardust as various stars burst apart. This stardust, in turn, becomes a part of the planets.  The focus then turns to our unique earth and its eventual inhabitants – all a part of ancient star matter.  Finally, the author focuses on the birth of the book’s young reader – “ You and the singing whales, the larks, the frogs” –  we are all the “stuff of stars.”

The Case from Outer Space

A Jigsaw Jones Mystery by James Preller, Illustrated by R.W. Alley

Suggested ages: 6-8 years

The Jigsaw Jones Mystery series is a popular early chapter book series.  It has short chapters (8-10 pages long), along with simple sentence structure and is accompanied by supportive illustrations.  The characters are also ones children can easily relate to.  Factoring in a mystery makes these books that much more appealing.  The Case from Outer Space begins with a mysterious note, the possibility of a visitor from outer space and some strange orange dust.   Each of the four characters with distinct personalities has something different to contribute to the solution – proof that team work leads to the best outcome.