Plot or Premise
This is part of the “First Encyclopedia” series focusing on Space. It is aimed at young readers up to early middle grade. The book is high on pictures and low on text, with about 200 words on the universe, galaxies, the solar system, the Sun, the Earth and Moon, Mercury/Venus/Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, space exploration, satellites, and the International Space Station.
What I Liked
The section on galaxies includes the standard prose and big pics of the Milky Way, but it also incudes a pic of the Milky Way above mountains (a night landscape) and three break-out pics showing irregular galaxies (which looks more like a globular cluster, to be honest), a spiral galaxy, and an elliptical galaxy. They look a little closer to what you might see through a telescope than a big Hubble-quality deep dive, which is great. The section on stars is nicely done in terms of showing colours, mentioning if hot or cold, and magnitude (without getting into actual definitions of magnitude). The individual planetary sections are fine, nothing special, although Jupiter is better done than the rest, with good detail on the bands and storms.
What I Didn’t Like
The solar system section is a bit basic in terms of the overall composition of the solar system from the Sun all the way out to dwarf planet Pluto. It does include the asteroid belt, but more on structure would enhance the learning. I also found the section on the Sun really basic. However, I was the most disappointed with the section on the Moon. It shows basic phases, with real photos (not just sketches or artwork), but the photos are relatively terrible considering the quality of everything else. I have better photos with my smartphone and scope. Some of the overviews are dated, of course, no way around that, but under space exploration, they note the earth-based Keck telescopes; yet some of the photos IN the book are from Hubble, and it isn’t covered? It is mentioned in passing as part of the Satellite section.
The Bottom Line
A bit basic, but better than most for balance with some good sections