On February 6, Elon Musk and his SpaceX team had hundreds of thousands of people looking up at the stars again (or at least looking at the live stream) as he successfully launched his Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden voyage. To add a little pizazz to the whole event, he sent his cherry red roadster and a mannequin dressed in a space suit on a little cruise – through space.
Musk’s event generated interest and excitement across the globe. (It also generated some healthy debate). The best parts of the historic launch reminded me of the excitement and wonder surrounding past space missions and our hopes for future exploration. Of course, all if it got me thinking about books and the people who write the stories that help us all imagine life beyond our little planet. So, I put together a list of books to help inspire the Starkid in your life.
The Countdown Conspiracy by Kate Slivensky
Ambassador, you are go for launch in T- minus 5…4…3…2…. Get ready to blast off with this high-action, high-stakes middle grade adventure that’s perfect for fans of Chris Grabenstein and Peter Lerangis!
Miranda Regent can’t believe she was just chosen as one of six kids from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But as soon as the official announcement is made, she begins receiving anonymous threatening messages…and when the training base is attacked, it looks like Miranda is the intended target. Now the entire mission—and everyone’s lives—are at risk. And Miranda may be the only one who can save them.
The Martian meets The Goonies in this out-of-this-world middle grade debut where the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Holy Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski
Guardians of the Galaxy meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in this laugh-out-loud funny debut novel about a girl’s journey into space and beyond to find her place in the universe.
Holly Farb is not the Princess of the Galaxy. She may be top of the class in every subject, but she can’t even win a school election, never mind rule the Milky Way. The aliens who kidnapped her have gotten it all wrong.
Unfortunately Holly’s alien pirate kidnappers believe that she’s the princess they’ve been looking for, and so she finds herself hurtling through space on an alien pirate ship together with her teacher, Mr. Mendez, and Chester, the most annoying boy in her class. Now all she has to do is escape the pirates, find the missing princess, and get back to Earth in time for her big test on Friday.
But it turns out that space is a pretty big place, and before they can go home, Holly, Chester, and Mr. Mendez must face down space cruise liners, bounty hunters, giant worms, perky holograms, cosmic board games, sinister insectoid librarians, and a robot who is learning how to lie.
Between running from space pirates, defying the President of the Universe, and meeting a host of rather unusual new friends, Holly starts to wonder if there might be more to life than being top of the class after all.
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.
Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Lucy Knisley
A true story from one of the Women of NASA!
Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.
Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.
Dean Robbins and Lucy Knisley deliver a lovely portrayal of a pioneer in her field who never stopped reaching for the stars.
Beep and Bob by Jonathan Roth
Astro Elementary is a school near Saturn attended by the bravest, brightest, most elite kids in the galaxy…and Bob. Bob never wanted to go to fourth grade in dark, dangerous space. He even tried to fail the admissions test by bubbling in “C” for every answer—and turned out to be the only kid on Earth to get a perfect score!
Bob feels he couldn’t be more misplaced at his school—until he meets Beep. Beep is an alien from the planet Orth who was kicked off his home world for being too small. The instant Bob finds him, Beep adopts Bob as his new mother. Soon Bob can’t turn around without bumping into Beep’s squishy little body. Together, they make the perfect team. And Bob logs their adventures on his space blog, or SPLOG, with Beep providing the illustrations.
In their first adventure, Bob is humiliated on a field trip to Pluto when his tongue gets stuck to the ice. Not even Beep can keep Bob from becoming the laughing stock of the school. Bob has to find a way to completely change his personality, just in time for their next treacherous field trip—to the gaping mouth of a super massive black hole.
I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong (“So cute!”) and all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin (“So cool!”). Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else’s dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what’s going on with her family as, one by one, they leave the house thinking that someone else is taking care of her―until she is all alone except for her cat and her best friend, Buster. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can’t help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore? With I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS, Lauren Baratz-Logsted has created a heartwarming story about family and being true to yourself.
Do you have a favorite space book that didn’t make my list? Or one that’s coming out soon that I should keep an eye out for? Let me know in the comments section below. Happy reading!