The Daily Camera – December 24, 2008
Author: Laura Snider
After helping to set up a colony on the moon and galloping across the red sands of Mars, Max the rottweiler died. Now his grandson (whose real name is Cosmo, but who goes by Max anyway) is continuing the rottweilers-in-space legacy, this time with a trip to Jupiter.
“Max Goes to Jupiter” is the latest children’s book by Boulder author — and astrophysicist — Jeffrey Bennett, who has already chronicled his real dog’s fictional adventurers in “Max Goes to the Moon” and “Max Goes to Mars.” Jupiter, it seems, was the next logical choice.
“This is a scientifically realistic series,” said Bennett, who is also a best-selling astronomy textbook author. “The moon is where we’d go first — where we’d put a colony. Then Mars, that’s where (humans) are going to go after the moon. But after Mars, you have choices.”
Venus would be the easiest to get to, he said, but scalding temperatures would make it hard to visit. The moons of Jupiter, on the other hand, might actually support life.
Bennett’s books are set apart from other space books for kids because they are scientifically accurate — well, at least the parts about the planets, maybe not the part about a dog wearing a space suit. For example, kids who read the latest book will learn about the volcanic activity on the moon Io and the ocean covered with ice on Europa.
“I have Max Goes to the Moon and to Mars. I love them!” said Phil Plait, also a Boulder astronomer and author who recently published his second book, “Death from the Skies.” “They have great story lines, great concepts, and are written so that kids and parents will both learn something.”
The margins of Bennett’s colorful books are filled with “big-kid boxes,” or extra astro-info for older kids.
“The books are designed to span a large range of ages,” he said. “Younger kids will just read the story and look at the pictures and not get much beyond that. Fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders can read the big-kid boxes — they’re secretly really parent boxes, too.”
The latest Max book, which is modeled after Bennett’s new dog, Cosmo, portrays a friskier, more mischievous puppy — just like Cosmo.
“The first Max was super well-behaved. You’d see that in the story,” Bennett said. “The new dog, he’s not always quite as well-behaved. He almost got lost in the lava field on Io.”