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Beginning Reader Book Reviews by Raiden


Dozens of books for very young readers are released every month. Of those that deal with fantasy and science fiction, most are fantasy - usually modern day tellings of fairy tales. Science fiction is very much the poor relation. Therefore, these Reviews by Raiden will focus on those books that do deal with science fiction.

Books reviewed can be old or new. If not available at your local library, they can be acquired from Amazon for a low, low price - so you can buy dozens of books for your child's library, for just a dollar or so!

Start your children early to dare to dream of a life under the seas, or the stars!

Books reviewed, listed by day uploaded.

Title Reviewed Title Reviewed
Richie's Rocket Apr 16, 2007 Wan Hu Is In The Stars Apr 16, 2007

Below, the books are reviewed in alphabetical order by author.

Richie's Rocket

Written by Joan Anderson, Photographed by George Ancona
29 pages. 1993

Good read?: Yes.

Richie Rodriguez is a young boy who has built a boy-sized model rocket on the roof of his apartment house. He enters it one afternoon, and imagines himself blasting off into space. A US rocket zooms by, lassos his, and takes him to the moon. After jumping around like a kangaroo and signing his name in the moondust, he returns to earth...and is called down to lunch by his mother.

A well-written book, illustrated with photographs of a young child model, rather than drawings of him. By using photos, it does make the story more "real" - as if it is really possible for anyone to become an astronaut and get out into space.

No life's lessons or morals are imparted. It's just a simple story about a boy's imagination and his dream of space.

Wan Hu Is In The Stars

Written by Jennifer Armstrong, Illustrated by Barry Root
29 pages. 1995

Good read?: Yes.

Wan Hu is an absent-minded man who dreams of reaching the stars. Despite the scoffing of the villagers, he experiments with his ideas - first gathering a flock of birds and tying them together so that he might soar behind them as they fly, and when this fails, he ties rockets to his bamboo chair, has a kindly gardener light them, and shoots off into the night sky.

I'd read of this legend before, though I couldn't tell you where, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, the story was first told by an American in a book called Rockets and Jets, by Herbert S. Zim in 1945, and so is probably apocryphal.

However, it makes a nice story.

What lessons might young children take away from this book? Well, Wan Hu makes a decision and sticks to it, despite the fact that his peers ridicule him each time he has a new idea. However, it's not so much that he hears the ridicule and doesn't care, as that he doesn't even hear the ridiucle, being too caught up in his own ideas to notice others.

He ties 47 rockets to a chair and shoots them off without testing to make sure that it would work first - a dangerous thing to do. Of course had he tested the chair with a monkey as test pilot it would have ruined the story - one must allow a little poetic license!

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