Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Alien Worlds: Your Guide to Extraterrestrial Life

Alien Worlds: Your Guide to Extraterrestrial Life

David A. Aguilar
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic Children's Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-1426311109

Are you interested in alien life forms? Are you willing to take what we know about space and species and combine this knowledge with your imagination? If so, then you the perfect space scout to go on a mission. You are going to explore eight planets that are based on planets that exist in our own galaxy. These eight “exoplanets” are going lie outside our solar system and you are going to use what you know about astronomy, biology, zoology, botany, and evolution to investigate these planets.

      Most missions, including this one, start with research. We have to know enough so that we have the knowledge we need to get the most out of the mission. We begin by learning a bit about stars and planets. Then we learn how to identify a potential alien planet. It will need to be “Earth-like” having an atmosphere, magnetic fields, volcanoes and earthquakes, and it has to be around the same size as Earth.

   Our first science-based imaginary planet will be an “Ocean World” called Siluriana. The planet is young and it has twice the gravity as the one on Earth, which means you will move slower than you are used to when you move about on the planet’s surface. Since nearly one hundred percent of the planet is covered with water, the creatures that live here have to be able to cope with an aquatic environment.

   Yelrihs-57e looks like a little like Earth at first glance but here day on one side of the planet and night on the other lasts forever and there are no seasons. The side of the planet that faces the sun has “shallow warm seas and “sun-blasted deserts.” On the other side it is cold and frozen. In the middle there is a “ghostly twilight ring.” Here, the sun sends out mostly infrared energy and so the plants we see in the twilight zone look black instead of green.

   In this cleverly conceived book readers will see how we can take what we know and use that knowledge to imagine what other habitable planets might be like. Though there is a healthy dose of fantasy incorporated into the narrative, readers will also a lot about our own planet as they ‘visit’ the eight planets and ‘meet’ the alien species that live there.