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Leap into Space Review by Cindy West

By Nancy F. Castaldo
Williamson Books
535 Metroplex Dr, Suite 250
Nashville, TN 37211

How would you like to give your children an astronomy textbook full of information and activities without them ever having the slightest idea it's a textbook? Me too! If you have an eight to eleven-year-old, Leap into Space might be just what you're looking for.

This full-color, 8" x 11" soft cover seems more like fun reading than a book full of important information. Even though it's 128 pages long, the design of the pages won't have your children whining about how much they have to read. Each page includes some text, but there are so many bright illustrations and wonderful photographs that the text seems minimal. Plus, the text is contained in fun boxes with fonts that grab the reader's attention.

The text is written directly to children, so the language is easily understandable for the 3rd through 6th grader. And even better, experiments and activities that reinforce the concepts are provided every two or three pages. It seems as though most of the experiments and activities can be completed without the help of an adult with very easy-to-find materials.

If your child is a hands-on learner, he or she will appreciate this book so much! A self-directed learner will appreciate how little you may have to be involved in the teaching.

I found the book to be very thorough. Chapters cover the topics of telescopes, earth, sun, stars, moons, things flying through space, and space travel. There are several biographies of famous (and not so famous) space scientists and travelers too. There's a large resource list in the back of the book that leads you to other books to read, websites to explore, space-related field trips in each state, and a calendar of space-related days throughout the year.

The only objection I would have to handing this book over to my children without supervision is the reference to ancient gods. Within the lesson on the sun, there is a small section on the legend of the sun god and an activity to make a bookmark using Egyptian symbols for the sun god. Also, in the section on planets, there are pictures of the gods that a few of the planets were named after--although, I found no text reference to these gods. A quick discussion with the children about this issue or ripping out a couple of pages would suffice in my family.

Beyond the above issue, I looked for and did not find any evolutionary or "millions of years" references. However, sometimes those references sneak into science books in places we never expect to find them. Overall, I loved this book and hope I can find other subjects from the same company!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009