You all may remember that I have a sweet spot in my heart for books written in letter format, and this new release from Sleeping Bear Press and retired astronaut Clayton Anderson is no exception! Anderson once spent 5 months on a mission in space, and in Letters from Space, he uses letters and written correspondence to both entertain and educate readers about what life is like for an astronaut in space. Read on for a little more information about the book, as well as some of the facts and tidbits we learned about space missions!
*** Affiliate links used. A big thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions of this book are my own.
Opening with a letter to his mom sent on Flight Day 3 and ending with a letter to Mission Control after he arrived safely back on Earth on Day 152, we get to read fictional letters from Clayton to his mom, his friends, Mission Control, students, his doctors, fans, and more. And while most letters do include some humor (“I sure hope aliens like basil and lettuce!”), each letter teaches the readers something important about what astronauts might actually do and learn on these missions.
Through Clayton’s unique approach to teaching about astronauts and NASA, readers learn about all aspects of space missions. For example, did you know that in the first few days of a space mission, your head might swell because your heart pumps too much fluid to your brain because it thinks you’re still on Earth? Or did you know that scientists ask astronauts to take pictures of specific things on Earth on various missions, comparing these photographs over time to learn about things like ocean health, soil erosion, deforestation, and city growth? Or that astronauts can’t wash their clothes in space, so they wear each item for a certain number of days in a row and then simply throw them away? (Yes, even their underwear…). Anderson even writes about the scientific method and Newton’s First Law without making it read like a textbook!
Be sure to spend time reading through the “PS From the Astronaut” pages at the back. Anderson has filled them with lots of interesting information about various stories he included in his letters, such as why scientists are learning about growing food in their spaceships.
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