Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond

Endeavouring to give the reader a broad overview of the history of space exploration, Jenkins begins with the pioneers of early astronomy, moves on to the history of the telescope, the development of rockets and the ensuing Space Race and takes a look at the Golden Age of Space Travel and the historic feat of Apollo 11. He also presents the day-to-day life of the astronauts at the International Space Station as well as addressing the possibility of alien life and the future of space-travel. It’s a lot of ground – or should I say space – for one book to cover. Hours and hours could be spent poring over its pages, but to my dismay this wealth of fascinating information is presented in a very unremarkable, text-heavy manner. Thank goodness for the illustrations!

Stephen Biesty’s retro-style watercolour drawings save this book. Despite being oddly placed – sometimes breaking text mid-sentence – his cross-section diagrams lay bare the inner mechanics of rockets and other intricately designed space technology. The level of detail in these clearly labelled pictures will surely impress space fanatics. The useful index, glossary and timeline at the back are also nice additions and make the book more accessible to young readers.

There are certainly other recent space-themed publications for children that are superior to this one in terms of presentation and accessibility. However, the unique quality of Biesty’s work cannot be ignored and makes this book a worthy addition to any budding astronaut’s space library.