The surface of Mars has the biggest volcanic mountains and deepest canyons in the solar system. There are the remains of water features everywhere, both tiny and vast, yet water hasn’t flowed on the surface for over three billion years. The whole planet is red because it’s rusty. Actually, it’s not really red—more of a brownish orange with blacks and greys and whites mixed in. But someone long ago called it “the red planet”, and the name stuck. A day on Mars is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth and is called a sol. The sunsets are upside down from those of Earth: shades of blue layering out from the Sun, diffusing into yellows and pinks and oranges above. Mars has two moons that move in opposite directions across the sky. There is very little atmosphere, and what there is consists mostly of carbon dioxide, the same gas that we exhale here on Earth. The wind blows hard at times, yet the atmosphere is so thin that you might barely notice it. Such winds can lift dust from the surface though, sometimes creating massive dust storms that blow for days. Occasionally, one of these storms will grow to cover the entire planet.
The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla publishes an annual list of recommended children’s books about space. Scratching the Surface made it onto this year’s list!
I’m honored to be included with all these other great titles.
Emily Lakdawalla’s Recommended Space Books for Kids, 2019
Welcome to my 11th annual list of recommended space books for kids! This year I had more than 80 books to read, and I’ve winnowed the list to recommend 29. There are books for all ages from 0 to 18 and beyond.
Nina’s voice came over the comm system: “Sally, we have a situation here.” Her voice was higher than normal. “Can we open a private channel.” That was all Cas heard. It was enough. Adults in the colony always made it a point to include the children in everything that happened. Conversations were open; secrets were not kept. For Sally and Nina to suddenly talk privately meant that something out of the ordinary had happened. Something bad.
Family and friends are gathered in the basement. It’s a party basement, with music, darts, ping pong, food and drinks. Jack-o-lanterns and witches and skeletons are taped to the walls. Kids are running around, costumes slowly falling off. Parents are chatting. The lights have been turned off upstairs to discourage late trick-or-treaters.
There was a sudden roar, louder than any noise Ori had ever heard. She sank to the floor, pulled her knees to her chin, closed her eyes, and cowered against the closed door. She had never felt wind before, only slight movements of air from the distribution system in the colony. But now she felt a terrifying rush of air over her. There were crashes and groans all around, and she opened her eyes to see the content of the dome—tables, chairs, lab equipment, plants, all—falling and shifting in the direction of the wind. She closed her eyes and screamed.