Readers may pick up a few “factoroids” along the way, but more systematic tours are available for the booking.


From the Professor Astro Cat series

Space-suited science guide Astro Cat leads a tour of physics, from molecules to the multiverse.

The itinerary is broad but wanders all over the map. With Astro Mouse as sidekick and cameos from a supporting cast of animals and famous scientists, the fulsome feline begins with a description of how gravity works. The tour goes on with only occasional stabs at a logical order to cover the scientific method, a select few units of measurement, atomic structure, the periodic table, states of matter (the three classical ones, anyway), Newton’s laws of motion, light, electricity, quarks, dark energy, and a bagful of other topics. Similarly, the blocks of narrative and Newman’s retro-style cartoon figures are pieced together in assemblages of neatly rectilinear but hard-to-follow segments on the large, square pages. As explainers Walliman and Newman are anything but cool cats (atoms are “crazy small!”). If the language sometimes ventures into problematic territory—“Gravity is smaller on the Moon”; “The little 2 [in E=mc2] means you have to times everything by the speed of light twice”—at least their enthusiasm for exploring our “Strange Universe” comes through warmly enough to be contagious. A closing spread of miscellaneous “Factoroids” closes with an oratorical signoff: “KNOWLEDGE AWAITS!”

Readers may pick up a few “factoroids” along the way, but more systematic tours are available for the booking. (glossary/index) (Informational picture book. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-909263-60-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet.



Is it a planet? A dwarf planet? What’s up with that mysterious body that, even in our best telescopes, floats tantalizingly at the edge of visibility?

Pairing a lighthearted narrative in a hand-lettered–style typeface with informally drawn cartoon illustrations, this lively tale of astronomical revelations begins with the search for “Planet X.” It then sweeps past Pluto’s first sighting by Clyde Tombaugh and its naming by 11-year-old Venetia Burney to the later discovery of more icy worlds—both in our solar system’s Kuiper belt and orbiting other stars. Meanwhile, sailing along with a smug expression, the mottled orange planetoid is “busy dancing with its moons. / Cha-cha / Cha-cha-cha” and Kuiper buddies as it waits for Earth’s astronomers to realize at last that it’s different from the other planets (“BINGO!”) and needs a new classification. Ceres inexplicably rates no entry in the gallery of dwarf planets, and the closing glossary isn’t exactly stellar (“World: Any object in space”), but fans of Basher’s postmodern science surveys will feel right at home with the buoyant mix of personification and hard fact.

A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet. (photos and additional detail, “Note from the Museum,” suggested reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0423-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A lively jaunt over well-traveled territory.


Conducted by a cat in a retro-futuristic space suit, this tour of the solar system and beyond earns style points for both its illustrations and its selection of “Factoroids.”

Diverging from the straight-line course such tours usually take, Professor Astro Cat begins with the Big Bang and the subsequent formation of stars and galaxies. In single-topic spreads, he then sails past the sun to present the Earth and moon, space travel from Apollo to the International Space Station, and the other planets in succession with their major moons and distinctive features. Going beyond the solar system, he explores constellations and telescopes and finally speculates in free-wheeling fashion about alien life and our future travels to other worlds. In blocky, mid-last-century–style cartoon pictures printed on rough paper, Astro Cat and his mouse sidekick point and comment as the smiling sun, cutaway views of spacecraft and satellites, heavenly bodies of many sorts and (toward the end) googly-eyed aliens sail past. Though claims that gas giants have a “surface” and that astronauts wear “armour to protect against flying space rocks” are, at best, misleading (and the text could have stood another round of copy editing), Astro Cat’s digestible bursts of information are generally accurate—and well-salted with memorable notes about, for instance, diamonds on Uranus or how dirty laundry on the water-poor ISS is consigned to fiery destruction in the atmosphere.

A lively jaunt over well-traveled territory. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-909263-079

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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