Best Children’s Books of 2013

This year’s best aviation- and space-themed books for young readers

(Simon & Schuster)

Young readers (ages 3 to 14) will find a selection of engaging books about flight and space exploration this holiday season. The subjects range from a mouse astronaut to the first black paratroopers to the man who remotely operates rovers on Mars. While the age categories are suggested by the publishers, the reading level of the individual child should be taken into account. 

Above: Mousetronaut Goes to Mars 
By Astronaut Mark Kelly, illustrated by C.F. Payne. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (34 p.) 
What's next for Meteor, the mouse astronaut? In this installment (after 2012's Mousetronaut), Meteor is headed 35 million miles away—to Mars. Could an unexpected glitch in the mission turn the furry stowaway into a hero? As usual, C.F. Payne's mixed-media illustrations are a knockout. Older readers will discover the complexities and challenges of a manned mission to Mars from astronaut Mark Kelly's afterword. Ages 4-8.

A Long Way Away

(Little, Brown)

By Frank Viva. Little, Brown, $16.99 (40 p.)
Viva’s second children’s book after Along a Long Road is read vertically, either from top to bottom or the reverse. Read from the top, a baby space alien from a distant planet tumbles to earth, dodging satellites, spaceships, and passenger jets, gently falling to the bottom of the ocean. Read in reverse, the space alien heads back to its home and loving family (“A home / a hug”). Strong graphics and hand-drawn type make this book a standout. Ages 3 to 6.

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