Monday, February 10, 2014

Postcards From Space: The Chris Hadfield Story, by Heather Down

Postcards From Space:
The Chris Hadfield Story
Author: Heather Down
Publisher: Wintertickle Press
Publication Date: June 26, 2013
View on Amazon

Source: purchased online

UPDATE: This review was written about the first edition of the book. The author has informed me that a new edition is being printed that includes more photos, as well as explanations of where the photos were taken. 

Postcards From Space is an abridged biography of Colonel Chris Hadfield, the world's favourite astronaut, written for children and accompanied by dozens of photos taken from space by Col. Hadfield himself. It is not, just to be clear, a book of photos that can be taken out and used as postcards, as cool as that would be. Most of the photos are arranged several to a page, similar to the cover, surrounding the text.

I bought this book for my daughter for Christmas but when it arrived in early November I read it to her right away. One reason is because it arrived with Chris Hadfield's book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, which was also supposed to be a Christmas present but I couldn't wait to open it. The main reason, though, is because we found out Col. Hadfield will be at a book signing in our city so we're hoping he'll sign both books for us.

My favourite part: I loved all the pictures and I think Chris Hadfield's story lends itself well to a children's book because he is so inspiring. It was nice to have his story and his photos contained in a familiar format for young children.

My least favourite part: The photos were not actually explained. It would have been nice if each of them had a description saying where they were taken, like Colonel Hadfield did when he posted them (or at least when his son Evan did). (This may be different in the new edition. See note above.)
     Also, a few of the details of his life were incomplete, some in noticeable ways. I understand it was an abridged biography for young children, but one glaring omission was when Heather Down claimed that Hadfield's 1995 Space Shuttle mission to Mir was "to take food, water and scientific supplies to the Russian cosmonauts who were living in space." While that is true, the main purpose of that mission was to build a permanent docking station on Mir so that NASA astronauts could travel back and forth to the Russian space station, a major step in international cooperation among space agencies. Chris Hadfield operated the Canadarm during that mission in order to attach the docking module. (Both Magda and I noticed the omission since we had spent so much time learning about Chris Hadfield's life.)

Magda's favourite part: I liked all the postcards, I mean the pictures. They were really nice.

Magda's least favourite part: When were the pictures taken? Were they old? [I explained that they were the pictures Chris Hadfield took from space in the past year.] Oh, okay. But what were they pictures OF? (Again, see note above.)

And I can't talk about an illustrated biography of Chris Hadfield without mentioning this fantastic illustration of Hadfield's "Ask Me Anything" with Reddit, by Zen Pencils:

For the full size image, see CHRIS HADFIELD: An astronaut’s advice, March 5th, 2013, on (c. Gavin Aung Than 2013).

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