Can you touch the planets? Why can you jump so high on the moon? Ben Moore, together with his wife Katharina Blansjaar, answers a total of 55 galactic questions from children in the new children’s book “Gibt es Aliens auf der dunklen Seite des Mondes?”. The book has recently been published by Kein & Aber.
PlanetS project leader Ben Moore and co-author Katharina Blansjaar. (Photo Guido Schwarz)
Hardly any other topic fascinates children more than the universe. But when children ask their parents questions about the universe, then they are usually overwhelmed to answer them. Books for children of the age 8 to 12 years that explain the universe in an easy understandable, scientifically correct way are rare. “That is why we decided to write one,” says astrophysicist and author Ben Moore.
What sounds like a children’s game quickly turned out to be not that easy. Originally, children in the context of a school project formulated questions about the universe. And Ben Moore was asked to answer them. “But when Ben came to me with the first answers, even I couldn’t understand it,” says co-author Katharina Blansjaar. Moore confirms: “Writing books for adults was relatively easy for me. So I thought writing a children’s book can not be that difficult. But it turned out that the children’s book was just impossible.”
The questions weren’t that complicated…
It is not the questions of the children that are complicated. „It is one of the easiest questions to ask ‚why can you jump so high on the moon?’. But how do you explain the word ‚gravity’ to an 8 year old?“, says Katharina Blansjaar. „These are things which in this way will only be taught in secondary schools. Children of the age 8 to 12 years don’t know the basics of physics.“ Ben Moore jokes: „Why don’t these children understand nuclear fusion!“
A child of this age has a very limited vocabulary on subjects like astrophysics, says Blansjaar. “You have to be aware of the fact that you will be overwhelming children if you use too many words.” This was the case in the beginning with all the words in the glossary which would have to be explained. So I went back to the text and asked Ben: Do we really need these words? Or can we use a different word? Or can we skip it all together?“
Inspire children with the topic „space“
At the end of April the two authors were able to present their book together with the Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier, who wrote the preface, to enthusiastic children and their parents at the vernissage in the “Kaufleuten” in Zurich. “Parents also learn something about the universe when they read the book together with their children,” says Ben Moore. “Of course, I hope, the book inspires children to want know more about space and astronomy or science in general.” Katharina Blansjaar adds: “And maybe it’s also a book that you give to a kid that’s 8 year old and look at it together with the kid. And the kid will pick it up in a year or two and still learns something new.”
For Ben Moore it is already clear that this is not the last children’s book that he published together with his wife. “I think there is a need for accurate science explained in a good way,” says Moore. But for now, he needs a break from writing. “I’m starting a new album,” he explains. In addition to his work as an astrophysicist and author, he is also known for his neoteric electronic dance music.
Cosmic Concept Store „Da draussen“
The book “Are there aliens on the dark side of the moon?” is available in every major bookstore. Or you go and visit the shop “Da draussen” at Weitengasse 9 near the Zurich Bellevue. In the Cosmic Concept Store that Katharina Blansjaar is running since October 2016, space fans will find many beautiful things besides the book. “We don’t specialize on geeky products,” explains Katharina Blansjaar. “We specialize on beautiful products. A lot is handmade and comes from small design studios.“
«Gibt es Aliens auf der dunklen Seite des Mondes? 55 galaktische Kinderfragen an Professor Moore», German language, Ben Moore and Katharina Blansjaar, illustrations by Katharina Blansjaar, published by Kein & Aber, 19.90 Swiss Francs
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