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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Day The Universe Exploded My Head: Poems to Take You Into Space and Back Again, written by Alan Wolf and illustrated by Anna Raff. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2019. $23.99 ages 8 and up

"I'm one part theoretical.
I'm one part hypothetical.
I'm one part mathematical.
They call me Planet X,

I'm one part supercilious.
Another part mysterious.
One part you-can't-be-serious.
They call me Planet X.

I'm one part speculation.
I'm another part sensation."

If you want your space science to be fun, entertaining, and educational, you have come to the right place when choosing to read this book. With poems about planets, moons, stars, the sun, space travel, astronauts and numerous other space-related 'stuff'; Alan Wolf provides some pretty delightful surprises.

Up first are two poems about the sun, our solar systems's 'burning heart'. The sun sonnet is quite the introduction, written in first person and taking a lot of credit for the galaxy we call home.

"I lit the fires that made you what you are.
When times were dark, I rose above it all.
Next time you want to wish upon a star,
you need not even wait for night to fall.

The simple truth may come as a surprise:
the closest star is right before your eyes."

From the sun, he moves to the moon, a meteor, a meteorite, and then each of the planets we know (and their moons). Full of scientific information presented in accessible and accomplished language, chosen perfectly, readers will come away having learned something new, or echoing some of what they already know.

The poetic forms are many; a number meant to be read by more than one voice. In that case, the reader takes a cue from the color of the penned lines. Anna Raff ups the entertainment with wonderfully spacey backgrounds and expressive galactic images. Digitally assembled color collages made from sumi ink washes, salt, pen and pencil,  the illustrations capture the mood throughout and add touches of humor in keeping with the poetry itself.

Back matter includes notes on the subject of each of the poems, and the poetic forms used.  There follows a glossary of selected terms, and a list of internet resources that can be used to expand knowledge.

Read it aloud, over and over again. Your kids will it appreciate it more each time they hear these wonderful poems.

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