Reviews /

We Are All Astronauts

Authored by Kate Pankhurst
Illustrated by Kate Pankhurst
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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We Are All Astronauts begins in Luna Scope’s bedroom. Luna dreams of being an astronaut and is on a mission to launch into space in her cardboard rocket. But just before Luna and her pet dog lift off, her Granny, Suri Scope, appears and informs Luna that before launching into space, there is detailed preparation to undertake. With Luna, the reader then embarks on astronaut training. We learn about astronaut attire, astronomy, space walks, the role of space geologists and engineers, the importance of teamwork, living on a space station, and we explore the solar system and the importance of respecting and looking after space. All aspects which young readers might be interested in are covered in the pair’s preparation. There is a page dedicated to Granny’s heroes – important female space pioneers, and we find out that Suri Scope was once a trainee astronaut herself – the perfect teacher.

This is a positive and lively book. Kate Pankhurst’s style is instantly recognisable: playful in design and illustration, busy and informative. The writing is pitched well for the reader. Sentences are not overly long, and explanations are clear. Clauses clarify information and most complex vocabulary is explained immediately. As with all Kate Pankhurst’s books, each page is jam packed with information. Whilst this information is interesting, the page designs are complex and even pages with arrows to guide us are rather difficult to follow and could be confusing. This means that the book would need mediating with younger or less confident readers.

The final page of We Are All Astronauts is interesting. Kate Pankhurst explains that this book is inspired by the real-life story of a group of talented female trainee astronauts in the 1960s, the ‘Mercury 13’ who did not make it into space because they were women.  The characters, Granny and Luna have been created to honour these women. Like other books which focus on females and space, such as the wonderful Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman, this book has been written to inspire young readers: we can be whatever we wish to be.

I think this is a book which adults would enjoy sharing with young readers. It would be a welcome addition to primary school and classroom libraries. It would inspire discussion and covers all aspects of space travel which readers would be interested in. On Kate Pankhurst’s website, she explains that this book is the first in a new series for all curious earthlings. This is indeed a book to share with our curious earthlings.