Jasper: Space Dog by Hilary Robinson illustrated by Lewis James

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing this entertaining book weaves fact and fiction together in a package that is designed to be accessible to a broad readership. Jasper would be a valuable addition to all primary school bookshelves.

The first in a new series by award winning author Hilary Robinson, this engaging book cleverly mixes facts with fiction in an entertaining way that results in children learning without them realising that they are doing so.

The story is told in the form of humorous letters between eight year old Charlie Tanner and Dr. Isabella Starr, a Rocket Scientist. Charlie asks questions about the moon and space travel on behalf of both himself and his extremely curious dog, Jasper. The questions young readers may want answers to themselves are put by this duo such as: Is the moon really made of cheese? How are space rockets powered? And, Why did one astronaut on Apollo 11 not walk on the moon? All these questions and more are answered with clear explanations and children will be learning while being entertained. Astrophysicist, Dr Suzie Imber acted as consultant for the book ensuring that all factual information is correct. In less than 100 pages it manages to cover a great deal and I even learned how Buzz Aldrin acquired his nickname!

A great deal of effort has been made to ensure that the book is designed with an inclusive approach and dyslexie font is used for the reduced text which is on cream paper and broken up by appealing illustrations. The artwork is provided by Lewis James, who is supported by The Prince’s Trust. Hilary Robinson also shared early drafts with teachers and children in several primary schools. All of this preparation has resulted in a package that should appeal to a broad range of young children, including both emergent and more confident readers.

This is the first in a new series, the second sees Jasper learning about the Vikings which sounds equally appealing.

I would like to thank Hilary and Strauss House Productions for sending me my proof copy.

Teaching Resources linked to Apollo Missions and the Moon Landings

If you are considering covering the anniversary of the moon landing and space travel in the classroom there are a range of online resources available. I have selected just a few that may be helpful.

Space Kids http://www.spacekids.co.uk/moon/ This site contains information about the Apollo missions including Apollo 11 and the first men who walked on the moon.

Peanuts and NASA http://ymiclassroom.com/lesson-plans/peanuts-nasa/ Fifty years ago Apollo 10, the NASA mission used Charlie Brown and Snoopy part of the U.S. space program when their names were used as call signs for the command and lunar landing modules. Now NASA and the Peanuts gang have teamed up to help students explore the history of space flight and the amazing technologies NASA will use to land astronauts on Mars. They have created separate activity sets and lesson plans for all primary school age groups which are available on this website.

ESA Space for Kids https://www.esa.int/kids/en/home The European Space Agency’s website for children. Information about spacecraft, the moon and more.

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