Wednesday, September 30, 2009

3, 2, 1, Blast Off!

Vaguely familiar. That's how I would have described my awareness of:
1. Graphic novels
2. Canine cosmonauts

Then I read Laika and discovered that graphic novels seem like a cross between a book and a movie and that a dog named Laika was the first living earthling to be launched into outer space. After reading about this 1957 Russian endeavor, I can't imagine being introduced to the story of Sputnik 2 in any other genre. Nick Abadzis accomplishes an amazing feat by combining impressive research, lively artwork and effective story-telling. This award-winning book gives insight into the Russian push to excel at space exploration, the bleak Communist lifestyle, and of course the people and the dog involved in this mission. Even though it is not a happy ending, it was a treat to read.

Ages 12 and up

Reading about Laika brought to mind a movie my whole family thoroughly enjoyed and watched time and again. October Sky is the true story of some West Virginia school boys whose rocket project won the national science fair in the late 50's. In one scene, Homer, the main character is doing what he swore he would never do...going down into the coal mine to work (due to family circumstances). As he is lowered into the mine shaft he sees Sputnik 1 trekking across his last glimpse of sky. The cage begins it's dark descent and an old timer says to Homer regarding his headlamp, "turn your light on boy." We love this line!! My husband and I often tell our son as he is leaving the house for the bus stop on dark winter mornings, "turn your light on boy."

In real life Homer grew up to work for NASA. I highly recommend this feel good, family movie!

Ages 9 and up

Activity: This is the rocket my son enjoyed building at school. It is only $6.58 and it has earned lots of positive customer feedback.

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