2018 Gift Guide: Space books for all ages


Do you have a future scientist or astronaut in your home? Below are a number of space-related books guaranteed to knock their socks off. Any of these would make great holiday gifts. The following were published in 2018. All synopsizes are italicized and provided by respective publishers. Reviews are by Jessica. Scroll down for the complete list or click or tap the following links to directly visit a section. AGES 3 & UPAGES 4 & UPAGES 5 & UPAGES 6 & UPAGES 8 & UPAGES 10 & UP 


TINY LITTLE ROCKET, by Richard Collingridge, David Fickling Books, July 31, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-5)

Climb aboard for a bedtime picture book sure to appeal to every kid’s sense of wonder. Young readers will love stepping into the cockpit of a wonderful rocket ship that takes them zipping through the planets, stars, and space, all the way back home to Earth and their cozy beds! — Synopsis provided by David Fickling Books

Tiny Little Rocket is bold, bright and dynamic. The book places readers right in the driver’s seat, and the final pull-out spread is a delight. Rhythmic text makes the action move forward at a great pace.

PENGUINAUT! by Marcie Colleen and Emma Yarlett, Scholastic Inc., Oct. 30, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-5)

Orville lives at the zoo, surrounded by animal pals who go on exciting adventures. A hang gliding rhino! A deep-sea diving giraffe! Orville struggles to keep up, until one day he concocts an adventure all his own: build a spaceship and fly to the moon all by himself. Can one tiny penguin get there alone? — Synopsis provided by Scholastic

Penguinat! celebrates the “can do” spirit of little ones who want to accomplish things on their own but need the support of loved one. This is a sweet picture book that young readers will love.

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TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR, I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE, by Julia Kregenow and Carmen Saldaña, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Sept. 4, 2018, hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

Written to the classic melody of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” by an expert in astrophysics, this book is an introduction to the real science behind the magic of stars. Discover how stars are created, what they’re made of, and even what makes them look like they’re twinkling. Stars are not only great for wishing upon, but they are also spectacular examples of scientific magic. From atmospheric turbulence to fusing atoms, these delightful (more accurate!) lyrics will become your new favorite version of this classic tune. — Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

My 4-year-old is a space junkie. She loves everything to do with it. While she doesn’t understand everything the book introduces, it’s serves as a great jumping off point for further discussion, and it expands on a lot of things she already has questions about. Some of the rhymes are a bit of a stretch, but not so much that we don’t enjoy it. End material includes more in-depth information about what stars are, constellations, atmospheric turbulence, gravity, neutron stars and planets.

Sun Stacy McAnultySUN! ONE IN A BILLION (OUR UNIVERSE), by Stacy McAnulty and Stevie Lewis, Henry Holt and Co., Oct. 23, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

Meet Sun: He’s a star! And not just any starhe’s one in a billion. He lights up our solar system and makes life possible. With characteristic humor and charm, Stacy McAnulty channels the voice of Sun in this next celestial “autobiography.” —Synopsis provided by Henry Holt and Co.

Because Sun! is an “autobiography,” readers get to know Sun’s fun personality. “Sun is a pretty important star, and yet, we don’t even capitalize his name,” Stacy McAnulty said. “I started to imagine how this might make him feel. He’s a good guy, but he wouldn’t mind a little bit more love and attention.”

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL, by Nick Seluk, Orchard Books, Oct. 9, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

Oh hey, guess what? The Sun never stops working to keep things on Earth running smoothly. (That’s why it’s been Employee of the Month for 4.5 billion years.) So why does the Sun get to be the center of attention? Because it’s our solar system’s very own star! This funny and factual picture book from Awkward Yeti creator Nick Seluk explains every part of the Sun’s big job: keeping our solar system together, giving Earth day and night, keeping us warm, and more. In fact, the Sun does so much for us that we wouldn’t be alive without it. That’s kind of a big deal. Each spread features bite-sized text and comic-style art with sidebars sprinkled throughout. Anthropomorphized planets (and Pluto) chime in with commentary as readers learn about the Sun. For instance, Mars found someone’s rover. Earth wants the Sun to do more stuff for it. And Jupiter just wants the Sun’s autograph. —Synopsis provided by Orchard Books

THE SKIES ABOVE MY EYES, by Charlotte Gullain and Yuval Zommer, words & pictures, Aug. 28, 2018, Hardcover, $22.95 (ages 4-7)

Have you ever looked up and wondered what’s going on high up in the skies above your eyes? Take a journey up into the air, through the atmosphere, way out into space, and back down to Earth in this richly illustrated concertina book. —Synopsis provided by words & pictures

Though The Skies Above My Eyes is super cool, you do need the space to spread out with it. It also requires some adult help for maneuvering, but this is one you’ll want to read with your little one anyway.

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GLOW IN THE DARK: VOYAGE THROUGH SPACE, by Katy Flint and Cornelia Li, Wide Eyed Editions, Aug. 2, 2018, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 5-8)

Join one little astronaut and her space dog as they voyage through our solar system and see space as you’ve never seen it before!  Journey from the sun, to the planets, asteroids and Kuiper belt, before folding out your glow-in-the-dark poster. Simply turn off the light to bring the incredible glow-in-the-dark ink to life. —Synopsis provided by Wide Eyed Editions

SPACE ATLAS, by Tom Jackson, QEB Publishing, Sept. 20, 2018, Hardcover, $17.95 (ages 5-8)

What is life like on the International Space Station? Can we survive on Mars? Why is Pluto no longer a planet? Just how big is the universe anyway? The ultimate guide to our galaxy, Space Atlas answers all these questions and more while exploring the far reaches of space, from our own planet to neutron stars, thousands of light years away. Showcasing significant locations in space which are explored in-depth with stunning illustrations, interesting fact files, diagrams and information on scientific achievements, this unique atlas tells you everything you could ever want to know about the universe, while taking you on a stunning visual journey through the stars —Synopsis provided by QEB Publishing

While Space Atlas includes some photographs, it’s the illustrations that take center stage, and that’s not a bad thing. I love that there are spreads devoted to the planets, sun and moon, as well as other heavenly bodies. The information is presented well and the illustrations are bold and inviting.

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PLUTO IS PEEVED: AN EX-PLANET SEARCHES FOR ANSWERS, by Jacqueline Jules and Dave Roman, Seagrass Press, June 5, 2018, Hardcover, $17.95 (ages 6-9)

Pluto is peeved. And who can blame him? He was once considered one of the Solar System’s nine planets but was unceremoniously demoted. “Why do scientists think it is all right to change things?” Is just one question Pluto asks as he roams the science museum in search of answers. Pluto Is Peeved!, a comic-book-style picture book, takes you on a scientific journey side-by-side with Pluto, who speaks with other museum inhabitants—such as a dinosaur, a germ, and the Earth—and learns what exactly scientists are interested in. The answer is: everything, including him! —Synopsis provided by Seagrass Press

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SPACE: THE DEFINITIVE VISUAL CATALOG, by Sean Callery and Miranda Smith, Scholastic Inc., Oct. 30, 2018, $19.99 (ages 8-12)

Only a small percentage of people will visit space in their lifetime, but now you don’t have to be an astronaut to see our universe in stunning detail! In Space: The Definitive Visual Catalog, you will be transported to our solar system and galaxies far beyond with the help of incredibly detailed color photographs from NASA and the International Space Station. Full of amazing facts and key information about the planets and stars in our solar system as well as recently discovered galaxies, Space is the only book you’ll need to learn everything there is to know about the astounding world beyond our planet. —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Inc.

This book is reminiscent of those DK books you loved as a child. The photographs are beautiful and the information delivered in perfect little snippets.

TO PLUTO AND BEYOND, by Elaine Scott, Viking Books for Young Readers, July 17, 2018, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 8-12)

New Horizons, a remarkable ship, no bigger than a piano, that uses no more energy than a lightbulb, has already traveled three billion miles out to Pluto, and is continuing on to the Kuiper Belt, the farthest reaches of our solar system. The book features the beautiful, amazingly sharp photographs New Horizons is sending back from its journey. Elaine Scott tells the exciting story of everyone’s favorite planet, from Pluto’s discovery through the frustrating attempts to study such a distant object, the creation of the New Horizons project, scientists’ hopes and expectations for the mission, and what is being discovered. — Synopsis provided by Viking Books for Young Readers

It’s amazing to think that a spacecraft launched in January 2006 is still sending back information to Earth. It took nine and a half years for New Horizons to reach Pluto. This January, the spacecraft is expected to head deep into the Kuiper Belt, flying out to areas that hadn’t been discovered before it was launched. For those still disappointed by the downgrading of Pluto, this is an excellent look at everyone’s favorite dwarf planet.

THE KNOW-NONSENSE GUIDE TO SPACE: AN AWESOMELY FUN GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE (KNOW NONSENSE SERIES), by Heidi Fiedler and Brendan Kearney, Walter Foster Jr., July 3, 2018, Hardcover, $16.95 (ages 8-12)

You’ll learn something new about this huge universe of ours every time you turn the page in The Know-Nonsense Guide to Space. Start by learning about the different planets in our solar system, all the way from Mercury to Neptune (and even dwarf planet Pluto!). Then reach out further and discover about the Milky Way Galaxy and other neighboring galaxies (and what is in them). On the journey through space, learn about different terms like asteroid belt, nebula, and supernova. Even learn about mysterious black holes! —Synopsis provided by Walter Foster Jr.

While the suggested age range on this one is 8-12, I think it could definitely skew younger. My 4-year-old doesn’t have the attention span for the entire book at once, but we could definitely do each spread a few at a time.

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AGES 10 & UP

STARTALK YOUNG READERS EDITION, by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Charles Liu, National Geographic Children’s Books, March 20, 2018, Softcover, $17.99 (ages 10 and up)

For decades, beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has interpreted science with a combination of brainpower and charm that resonates with fans everywhere. In 2009, he founded StarTalk, the wildly popular podcast that became an Emmy-nominated talk show on the National Geographic Channel in 2015. Tyson’s pioneering book takes the greatest hits from the airwaves to the page in one smart, richly illustrated compendium for young adult readers. Featuring vivid photography, thought-provoking sidebars, enlightening facts, and fun quotes from science and entertainment luminaries like Bill Nye and Josh Groban, StarTalk reimagines science’s most challenging topics. — Synopsis provided by National Geographic

StarTalk is the exact sort of book I would have loved as a middle grader. Everything is presented in easily-digestible sections with bold fonts and great imagery. While this book is about space, it also features sections on Earth, being human and looking toward the future.

APOLLO 8: THE MISSION THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING, by Martin W. Sandler, Candlewick, Sept. 19, 2018, Hardcover, $24.99 (ages 10 and up)

In 1957, when the USSR launched Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth, America’s rival in the Cold War claimed victory on a new frontier. The Space Race had begun, and the United States was losing. Closer to home, a decade of turbulence would soon have Americans reeling, with the year 1968 alone seeing the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy as well as many violent clashes between police and protesters. Americans desperately needed something good to believe in, and NASA’s mission to orbit Earth in Apollo 8 and test a lunar landing module was being planned for the end of the year. But with four months to go and the module behind schedule, the CIA discovered that the USSR was preparing to send its own mission around the moon — another crucial victory in the Space Race — and it was clearly time for a change of plan. —Synopsis provided by Candlewick

This fairly comprehensive book for middle readers is an easy read that brings a fascinating time in U.S. history to life.

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© 2018, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.


About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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