Friday, May 29, 2015

Cats & Dogs in Space

Two new books from Boyds Mills Press celebrate imagination with tales of cats and dogs in space. Not real space, and not real rockets - but the kind that kids can relate to.

themes: space, imagination, pets

Space Boy and his Sister Dog
by Dian Curtis Regan; illus by Robert Neubecker
32 pages; ages 3-7

"Niko lives on Planet Home with his dog, Tag, and his copilot, Radar."

He has his very own spaceship, a delightful construction of boxes, old tires, and a flower pot and every day he heads out on missions. One day he finds a flyer for a lost cat. Niko believes the cat is lost on the moon (did I say he is imaginative?) - and so they blast off.

But after landing, they discover a stowaway. His sister. She is NOT supposed to be there.

Does Niko find Mrs. Jarabaldi's cat? Does he really abandon his sister on the moon? And, more importantly, will they all make it back home in time for dinner?

Meanwhile, across town (or in some other state)...another pet of a different stripe gets into trouble her own adventure in....

No, No, Kitten
by Shelley Moore Thomas; illus by Lori Nichols
40 pages, ages 3-7

"Kitten wants a basket. Kitten wants a pillow. Kitten wants a blanket. Kitten wants..."

With a first page like that, you just know that whatever Kitten wants, it's going to end up being trouble. And when Kitten turns the fishbowl into a space helmet, you know you've got an out-of-this world adventure. But first, Kitten needs a spaceship. And a copilot (the puppy).

When they return from space, things settle down until Puppy wants.... a bowl, some kibble, a bone. Wait! What kind of bone is that! (oh no!) 

What I like about these books: They are fun to read. Niko doesn't really land on the moon, and Kitten doesn't really blast off in a shoebox spaceship. But they could - if you let your imagination run wild. And there's the fun. What could you do if you allow your imagination to run wild? And would it involve cats, dogs, siblings? 

Beyond the book: 

Build your own spaceship using things you find around the house. It could be small (like a shoebox or empty soda bottle) or large (like a refrigerator box or the space underneath the kitchen table). Don't forget a control panel. 

Dress like an astronaut. Make a helmet out of a plastic gallon milk jug, paper bag, or box covered with foil. Turn two large soda bottles into an oxygen tank and you're ready to blast off. 

Make some paper rockets that flutter in the wind. Instructions here. 

Make some glittery galaxy play dough. Instructions here. 

Build your own Space Mission with help from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab - choose the kind of mission you want to go on, create a rover, and blast off. Interactive game here.

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copies from the publisher.


  1. Pet stories are always popular with kids! Great choices!

  2. I love the imagination of children. This is such a great book to encourage it too. The illustrations are really fun. I remember believing that I could build a plane out of a log and fly it or make hamburgers out of clover leaves, Imagination needs encouragement and room to grow in kids. It will be important later in life when it's time to think outside the box. The second book about the kitten going to space is a nice pairing. Fun choices today.

  3. I couldn't tell from the book covers that these PB had anything in common. It's interesting to me how many ways a subject can be approached. Thanks!

  4. Space is really a popular theme now, great combo with pets. Clever.

  5. Who wouldn't love these books? Was that a rhetorical question? I love how "sister" is crossed out. It sets the tone of the book immediately. Love it! :D I also love how the kitten is the child archetype—always wanting something that will get them into trouble with adults. I'm thinking "No! David!"
    Thanks for highlighting!

  6. Okay, got to find the kitten book to find out what type of bone it was! Thanks for pointing out these two, both new to me.

  7. I have the kitten book, which i love, the first is new to me. But both these clearly allow kids to let their imaginations explode. Great choices.

  8. Two sweet choices - hope my library has them!

  9. I love reading my class stories that encourage them to use their imaginations. Thank you!

  10. Both are new to me! And also glittery galaxy play dough! What a fun combo!