Space Boy and His
Author: Dian Curtis Regan
Illustrator: Robert Neubecker
Published April 7th, 2015 by Boyds Mills Press
Goodreads Summary: Niko may live on boring old Earth with his family, but he’s always finding a new adventure. Using the spaceship that he built from a box in his backyard and a little imagination, he flies off into space with his robot, Radar, and his dog, Tag. The only one NOT invited is his sister Posh who keeps trying to insert herself into Niko’s story. In this first mission, Niko and crew (and maybe also pesky Posh) fly to the moon in search of a lost cat. Illustrated in comic–book style and featuring easy–to–read text packed with humor, Space Boy and His Dog is Niko’s first adventure, with two more books planned in the series.
About the Author: Dian Curtis Regan is the author of more than 60 books for young readers, including The Snow Blew Inn, Rocky Cave Kids, Monster of the Month Club, Barnyard Slam, and the bestselling Princess Nevermore. Her books have received many honors, including Best Books for Young Adults, Los Angeles Times Recommended Book, and Children’s Choice Awards. For more information on her books, visitdiancurtisregan.com and spaceboybooks.com.
Kellee’s Review: Regan and Neubecker do a great job in this picture book making Niko’s story come to life. It is a fun story with elaborate, bright full-page illustrations. I also like that it is a chapter picture book. It sequences Niko’s adventure into different “chapters” which would make it a nice introduction to the idea of chapter books. This is a story that will trigger interest in space! It would spur some really wonderful conversations about the moon, but there are so many exciting elements to discuss. I love that the book promotes imagination (reminds me of Faraway Friends by Russ Cox in that aspect). It shows that playing in the backyard and pretending can be so much fun! It would offer excellent opportunities to analyze the interactions between Posh and Niko, Niko’s voice, as well as the character traits of the two characters.
Ricki’s Review: After reading this book, I showed it to a middle school science teacher who loves everything related to space. She told me she is excited to use it in her classroom to introduce her unit on space. The book reads like a fantasy, so she plans to do a lesson at the end of her unit (after they study the different planets), and her students will imagine themselves on a planet. As an educator, I very much value interdisciplinary connections, and I think teachers would enjoy using this book to kick off or conclude a unit about space. Students can consistently refer to the book and ask, “What was real, and what was fantasy?” The books is quite clever and very funny, and I was smiling as I read it to my toddler. I recommend this book particularly for early elementary school classrooms, but I think it can be used at all levels.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Monday, July 20th, is the anniversary of the first moon landing, so this is perfect timing to celebrate this book. It would be a fun way to start a lesson about the moon and would definitely be a jumping off point to discussing the atmosphere of the moon, how long it would take to get to the moon, and space ships.
A curriculum guide for Space Boy and His Dog is available here. The curriculum guide not only focuses on the space elements of the story, but also asks the reader to think about characterization, the interactions between Niko and Posh, author’s purpose, and how illustrations affect a story.
Discussion Questions: What would Niko and Post need to survive a visit to the moon?; How long does it take to get to the moon?; Looking at Niko’s spaceship, how does it compare to NASA spaceships?
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**