Bookworm: To the moon; becoming a P.I.

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Selected books about the moon for young readers.

“The Moon’s First Friends”

  • By Susanna Leonard Hill, pictures by Elisa Paganelli
  • c. 2019, Sourcebooks
  • $17.99, $25.50 Canada; 40 pages

“If You Had a Birthday Party on the Moon”

  • By Joyce Lapin, illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli
  • c. 2019, Sterling Children’s Books
  • $16.95, $22.95 Canada; 40 pages

“The First Men Who Went to the Moon”

  • By Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Scott Brundage
  • c. 2019, Sleeping Bear Press
  • $16.99, $21.99 Canada; 32 pages

“Marty’s Mission: An Apollo 11 Story”

  • By Judy Young, illustrated by David Miles
  • c. 2019, Sleeping Bear Press 
  • $17.99, $22.99 Canada; 32 pages

Sometimes, on a clear summer night, the moon seems like it’s right down the block. It’s big and bright, and you can just imagine visiting there. What would it look like? How would you live, if you moved to the moon? You may find the answers to those questions and the story of an exciting day by picking up these great books …

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For the littlest sky-watcher “The Moon’s First Friends” by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, gives the orb a certain friendliness. Through the centuries, as this tale goes, the moon observed everything that happened on Earth, occasionally razzle-dazzling humans until finally, she had visitors! This is a cute story and, for curious 3-to-5-year-olds, there’s a nice afterword you can read, too.

For the child with a great imagination, “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon” by Joyce Lapin, illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli, could be just the right gift. Mixing fun with fact, this book imagines a celebration on “the perfect party site,” complete with pre-flight prep, tips on moving around in zero-gravity, and games your child might play on the lunar surface. For a 5-to-7-year-old who loves a party, this book is a five-star read.

For the youngster who is truly fascinated by that which happened long before her birth, “The First Men Who Went to the Moon” by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Scott Brundage is a book that will be absolutely enthralling. Filled with lots of pictures and surprisingly gentle narrative, this is a quiet tale that’s also nicely informative in a show-not-tell way. For that, it’s perfect for 3-to-5-year-olds’ bedtime or after a little moon-watching.

Finally, based on a true story, “Marty’s Mission: An Apollo 11 Story” by Judy Young, illustrated by David Miles is about a young boy whose father managed a NASA tracking station on the island of Guam. When something goes terribly wrong during the return of Apollo 11, ten-year-old Marty is the one to save the day. Meant for slightly older kids (ages 6-10) this colorfully illustrated book is a true thriller.

Absolutely, your child is too young to remember what happened fifty years ago. You may not remember it either, but these four books are great introductions to the history-making Apollo 11 landing and to space exploration in general.

What’s really nice about each of these books is that they are factual without being too technical for little minds to grasp. Yes, there’s some grown-up language in them but in each book, it appears alongside a child-friendly story, next to illustrations that will hold little stargazers still. Should a child want to know more, each book offers that in extra information found toward the back covers.

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Be aware that, though these stories are for kids of a variety of ages, they’re formatted like picture books for smaller children so that’s where you may find them. If you have a child who’s fascinated with space travel and reaching for the stars, though, these books will put him over the moon.

 “Becoming a Private Investigator (Masters at Work series)”

  • By Howie Kahn
  • c. 2019, Simon & Schuster
  • $18, $25 Canada, 144 pages

You need to pick up one of those magnifying glasses. Oh, and a trench coat. You want to close cold cases and fight crime, so those must be mandatory, right?  Trench coat, magnifying glass, catch killers, solve crimes, and that’s what it takes to be a P.I. Or you need to read “Becoming a Private Investigator” by Howie Kahn.

“Becoming a Private Investigator (Masters at Work series)” by Howie Kahn.

No big surprise: your favorite TV detective show has everything wrong.

On television, the P.I. is usually looking for a murderer; in reality, says Kahn, private investigators deal with a variety of issues that need deeper research than perhaps most people are able to do. On television, P.I.s are always broke; in reality, they make up to $500,000 on bigger jobs. TV crimes are solved in an hour, minus commercials; in real life, a private investigator might work on a case for years.

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If you think it’s a career for a person with patience, you’re right: private investigators are research experts and can unravel the most knotted facts, they’re flexible, and they know how to read people. They’re also good at “disrupting” stalled investigations, a talent that police sometimes hate. P.I.s are able to think sideways to spot clues, and they have the tenacity of ten terriers.

As for the industry itself, Kahn cites the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states that “projected occupational growth rate” is 11 percent, which is much higher than for other jobs. Three years ago, the U.S. boasted more than 40,000 working private investigators, all of which, presumably, are licensed, since the majority of America’s states have strict requirements on licensure.

To give readers an idea of what it’s like to work as a private investigator, Kahn followed two P.I.s, one in Tennessee and one in Texas. The former became a private eye after helping to solve the murder of her former roommate; she wanted to quit when it was over until she realized that her expertise was still needed. The Texas P.I. gained his skills while in the military, and he shares with Kahn a case that still dogs him…

Readers who come to this book for career advice will be quite surprised at “Becoming a Private Investigator,” for two big reasons.

While this series of guidebooks is generally meant for high school students and adults looking for career changes, this one focuses almost entirely on the latter. Indeed, both of author Howie Kahn’s profiled P.I.s are older adults who started their respective careers well past their high-school years. Yes, teens will glean information here but adults will benefit more.

The other truly pleasant surprise is in the true-crime elements in which this book is so deeply steeped. Kahn’s investigators and their case studies will call to mystery mavens and armchair detectives alike, perhaps aiming crime solvers toward fascinating second careers later in life.

Even if you’re not career-swapping, this different kind of business book is pure fun to read. If you’re thinking of a new job, however, and need help launching, get “Becoming a Private Investigator” and magnify your options.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.