Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman, (Flying Eye Books), 64 pages, originally released in 2013
Flying Eye Books is an international publishing company, an offshoot of Nobrow Publishers. Nobrow publishes some remarkable graphic novels and non-fiction (I’ll be reviewing several of these in the next month or so). Flying Eye seeks “to retain the same attention to detail in design and excellence in illustrated content as its parent publisher, but with a focus on the craft of Children’s storytelling and non-fiction.”
Normally as a reader, whether of adult or children’s books, I’m focused on story. A good cover might capture my interest momentarily, but it’s story that makes me stick with a book, that makes me love it. Nobrow/Flying Eye are making me rethink my criteria. Yes, story is crucial—but there are books where the visual magic is as significant as the magic of the writing, books that marry image and word in ways that create something neither form could achieve by itself.
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space is just such a book. Created by a PhD in Quantum Device Physics (Dr. Dominic Walliman) and an award-winning illustrator and comic book creator (Ben Newman), the book combines scientific rigor (on a level appropriate for younger readers) with delightful imagery. Every page offers a wealth of details. The written text includes compilations of facts, astronomical history, longer descriptive passages, and small asides. The illustrations are busy in the best way: clearly connected to the text, but with all sorts of small flourishes and surprises built in.
This is the kind of book that a grade-school age budding scientist can spend hours with. I wish I’d had a book like this when I was younger, but even now, when I’m well into my fifties, I’m absolutely captivated by it. I want to leaf through it again and again; I want to pore over every page. This is a perfect book for gift-giving and for opening up the universe (literally, the universe) for younger readers.