Friday, November 4, 2016

Two Books for Space Cadets

Today I'm celebrating space exploration - real and imagined. Also spiders, which some people know I love. Today's theme: nonfiction, space

Nefertiti, the Spidernaut
by Darcy Pattison; illustrated by Valeria Tisnes
32 pages; ages 6-8
Mims House, 2016

Early in 2012, in a greenhouse near Yarnell, Arizona, a Johnson jumping spider laid an egg sac.

One of the spiderlings that hatched from that egg sac became a famous space explorer. Her name was Nefertiti and she spent 100 days in space. Her job: to hunt. In a weightless environment.

What I like about this book: It takes the reader through the scientific process, plus some "pre-launch" tests to make sure Nefertiti could handle conditions in space. Once aboard the International Space Station, Nefertiti has to learn how to hunt all over again. On earth, she jumped in an arc to capture prey. In space, once she jumped? Furthermore, once she returned to earth, could she re-adapt to gravity?

I like the backmatter: facts about Nefertiti, resources for learning more, and a discussion about the engineering problems of building a spider habitat for space.

Beyond the book: 
Look for Jumping spiders in and around your house (ours tend to hang out in the kitchen and bathroom where it's a bit more humid). Check out these photos at BioKIDS. 

Watch a video of Nefertiti hunting aboard the space station . 

Read what author Darcy Pattison has to say about doing research for the book. 

Space Puzzles (series: Brain Games Treasure Hunts)
by Dr. Gareth Moore
32 pages; ages 8-12
Hungry Tomato (Lerner), 2016

This is a solve-it-yourself adventure book in which you are alone on a space ship roaring away from Earth. You need to solve a series of puzzles to pilot the ship to the moon, refuel, and return to Earth.

Along the way you'll have to use codes and coordinates, solve balancing puzzles, figure out how to open the hatch, and work out some basic "rocket science".

You won't get Lost in Space, though - because there are some hints (and even solutions) to help you navigate safely home.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copies from publishers.


  1. Wow! This is a great find for kids! I didn't realize they took a spider to space. Loved the video in space.

  2. This book sounds fantastic! I, too, didn't know a spider traveled to space. I'm quite curious about this story and am looking forward to checking out this book!