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Adventures of a Spacefaring Feline

Dianne Timblin

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On Earth, cats aren’t exactly considered team players. Nor are they viewed as especially nerdy. (I mean, they’re not exactly owls, right?) Sure, they’re cool with a 15-hour nap or a frenzied midnight sprint around the house. But coteaching science lessons—with a mouse? I think not.

Space cats are different.

In 2013, author Dominic Walliman, who has a doctorate in quantum device physics, teamed up with illustrator and comic book creator Ben Newman to introduce to the creatures of Earth an intrepid cosmic traveler in Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space (Flying Eye, $24.00). A big, bold book geared for humans ages 7–11 (or anyone up to approximately 78 years north of those ages), Frontiers of Space welcomes readers into its pages with gorgeous retro-inspired artwork and keeps them there by describing the wonders of the universe and the science underlying them. Amid the facts about telescopes, the death of stars, and the speed of light, Professor Astro Cat and his spirited companion, Astro Mouse, keep up a witty patter.

The two have been keeping their creators busy. Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System (Minilab Studios, $2.99, iOS and Android), a mobile app adapted from a portion of Frontiers of Space, appeared in 2015.

And—to fans’ great delight—the next book, Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure (Flying Eye, $24.00), is set for a May release.

For those who enjoyed the first book, Atomic Adventure will not disappoint. The artwork is just as dazzling, created with a similar, brighter palette and again adopting shapes and flourishes that evoke 1960s space-age designs. The science is just as fascinating too, and it’s presented even more thoughtfully on the page, with a bit more airiness that helps guide the eye from one discovery to the next.Click to Enlarge Image

Atomic Adventure presents a more broad-based view of physics than Frontiers of Space, covering topics such as the scientific method, measurement, atoms and molecules, Newton’s laws, energy, electricity, magnetism, and dark matter. Even the multiverse gets a nod. A section on the science of light is especially delightful, presenting Astro Cat in artist garb, painting away as he answers a classic query (“Why is the sky blue?”) and then goes on to explain the electromagnetic spectrum. Considering the breadth of physics covered in Atomic Adventure, kids may find it a more natural starting place before going into the astrophysics of Frontiers of Space, but starting with either book should be fine.

Whether you’re a cat connoisseur, a dog devotee, a hamster partisan, or an iguana booster, you’re apt to agree that the affable, amusing, and—yes—wonderfully nerdy Professor Astro Cat makes a fine companion for the budding scientist. —Dianne Timblin

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