Space Explorers: 25 Extraordinary Stories of Space Exploration and Adventure; Libby Jackson, illustrated by Léonard Dupond
If you want to read fascinating stories about space and the personnel involved in sending humans hundreds of kilometres above the Earth then books by Libby Jackson are a very good place to start. Having previously read A Galaxy of Her Own: 50 Stories of Women in Space, I was anticipating another astronomically good read. And so with my spacesuit ready and the rocket fuelled up, I started the countdown ready to launch into her latest book.
Space Explorers is twenty-five short stories that retell iconic moments and achievements in the space race. Told in chronological order, the stories cover the period from 1957 to the future. The last story is an imagined mission to Mars that makes for a truly fascinating read. In fact, the whole book makes for a fascinating read. Libby Jackson expertly captures the excitement, the fear, the in-trepidation, the breathtaking moments and the moments of sheer panic and terror of those involved in the various missions both on the ground and up in space.
Rich in detail, information and facts, Jackson provides details on several missions and names many of the astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts that have ventured into space along with all sorts of things going wrong and incredible firsts. There are computers malfunctioning high above the Earth, explosions, problematic spacesuits, farming and growing food, recording a music album, a clever use for a toothbrush and a perfectly fitting felt-tip.
Whilst many stories focus on specific missions, I particularly enjoyed those that focused on certain aspects of space: food, what it takes to be an astronaut, the International Space Station and life in space all made for very interesting reading and added something that little bit different. More poignant and sombre stories detail the terrible consequences and tragic loss of life when things go horribly wrong.
Léonard Dupond provides the rich artwork. Full page illustrations are delightful as too are the smaller objects that flit amongst the pages of text: rockets, planets, origami birds and more all add to the first class presentation. The endpapers are gorgeous too, colourful planets against the blackness of space.
An incredibly stylish book.
Recommended for 9+.