The Blackest Hole in Space by Penny Little and Vincent Vigla
|The Blackest Hole in Space by Penny Little and Vincent Vigla|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath|
|Summary: A look at space for young children, with a blend of fact and fiction. Despite an interesting core idea, it's not pitched at the right level for its audience, so becomes a frustrating missed opportunity.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 24||Date: March 2009|
|Publisher: Hodder Children's Books|
Charlie and his dad build a rocket, then Charlie and Doggo head off into space, where they're sucked into a black hole. They have a bit of a look around (as one does in a black hole, apparently), then head off home for their tea.
I wanted to love The Blackest Hole in Space, but ultimately I was left with a number of frustrations. Let's deal with the good first, because there is much to be praised. Vincent Vigla's illustrations are lovely. He's got a fun, bold, cartoony style, that sits beautifully on the colourful planets in the background. Charlie and Doggo are wonderfully expressive characters. The core idea of mixing a simple story about space with a number of space facts is a good one. Anything that gets kids interested in science, space and the world we live in is a positive thing. There was plenty of potential for this to have been a firm favourite.
But. The story doesn't sit well with the facts. The story is so simple that it's pitched well below the suggested "ages 5 and up" on the cover. The facts at the bottom of each page will be above the heads of the younger children who will enjoy the story. It's neither one thing nor the other, rather than the intended (and achievable) mix of both. Stopping to read the facts at the end of each page could be an interesting way to stimulate the imagination and/or further discussion, but in fact you end up losing your way. After a page or two of this, you'll just read through the story, then come back for the facts.
There's obviously a fair bit of suspension of belief when dealing with a picture book about a young boy and his dog heading off to space. That said, in a book that tries to bring some facts into the proceedings, I wasn't keen on the idea that people can be sucked into black holes, then just head off home when they're done having a look around. Again, it's not quite one thing or another: it's not outlandish enough to be quirky fantasy, nor realistic enough to be an interesting introduction to space travel.
It's also not a particularly easy book to hold. The individual pages are made of stiff card (similar to that used for many paperback picture books). Holding the book open feels like a struggle at times, especially on the pages with the biggest of black holes cut out of them. It won't be a deal-breaker for any child who laps up anything and everything they can about space, but books are usually such aesthetically-pleasing objects to hold, and this wasn't.
My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.
For children who want to head into space in a cardboard box, check out Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. Journey to the Moon by Lucio and Meera Santoro is an interesting space-themed pop-up book that will stimulate an early fascination with the universe.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Blackest Hole in Space by Penny Little and Vincent Vigla at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Blackest Hole in Space by Penny Little and Vincent Vigla at Amazon.com.
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