Sunday, February 26, 2017

We need YOU to become an astronaut!

When Tim Peake blasted off to the International Space Station last year, his mission captured our imaginations and showed us what living and working in space was really lie.

Between dangerous spacewalks, running a marathon, delivering lettuce seeds and speaking to schoolchildren from orbit, he ignited a passion and curiosity about space - and then got everyone excited again with the news that he's going back for another mission.


Around the world, space is booming. And Abingdon sits smack bang in the centre of some of the most exciting space science - and talented scientists - on the planet.

Still wondering what to be when you grow up? Our advice is to become an astronaut. But where do you start?

On March 26 at the Amey Theatre, as part of Abingdon's ATOM Festival of Science, Louie Stowell - children's author and UK Space Agency expert - will explain "How To Become An Astronaut" in an exciting, out-of-this-world event for the whole family.

Together with Usborne Books, Louie will explain just what it takes to become an astronaut and go on a mission to the International Space Station.

Being an astronaut is not about having the “right stuff” any more. You have to be a scientist, engineer, gardener, YouTuber, coder...not to mention toilet scrubber.

Louie will talk through the training process, and there will be a crash course (not literally!) on what it takes to travel into space. She will answer all the big questions from “How do rockets work?” and “What do astronauts do all day?” to “How do you go to the toilet on a spaceship?” 

On the way you'll learn about the technology that astronauts use, from space suits (surprisingly heavy) to Soyuz spacecraft (surprisingly old), and the scientific experiments that Tim Peake and his colleagues carried out on the International Space Station.

Louie Stowell is author of the Usborne Official Astronaut’s Handbook, which answers all the questions you need to know about being an astronaut (and contains a special message from Tim Peake!). 


Louie has also written books on Coding for Beginners Using Python, so expect tips on what software is needed for a successful trip into space.

Around the world, space is booming. Reusable rockets, daring exploration, international collaborations, awe-inspiring science and even trips round the Moon. We think becoming an astronaut might just be the best career move you could make...

So come along, have fun, be inspired - your training starts here!

Tickets are £4 for adults, £2 for children - or free with an ATOM Festival Pass. Buy tickets from the official ATOM Festival Website - or from Mostly Books.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Do Something Booky for #WorldBookDay20 - share the love of children's books and reading!

It can bring the most organised and crafty parent out in cold sweats, suddenly having to put together a costume at 11pm the night before ("Where did we put those Where's Wally socks?").

But we prefer to think of World Book Day as a time to share the joy and love of children's books - and take a full part in one of the UK's biggest book celebrations.

This year is extra special as it's the 20th anniversary of World Book Day. That's two awesome decades of dressing up, and literally millions of £1 vouchers and free books for children.

As well as exchanging their vouchers for the WBD books themselves (and you can take a look at this year's selection here) they can be used as £1 off any book in the shop.

World Book Day asks 'Do Something Booky' and we say 'Read A Book!'. So for today's #FridayReads, and in the interests of sharing the joy of reading for #WorldBookDay20, here are our pick of brilliant new children's books that have come into the shop in the last few weeks.


All of these are out on our two display tables front and back, so you won't be able to miss them when you walk into the shop!

'Also an Octopus' by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji davies
One of Imogen's favourite picture books of the year so far, this bonkers tale of how a story gets told features purple spaceships, an incredibly cute bunny...and also an octopus. Illustrated by Benji Davies ('The Storm Whale') this is bold, funny, imaginative and guaranteed to become a firm family favourite.

'Opposite Surprise' by Agnese Baruzzi
We love books that generate surprise and laughter amongst very little ones, and 'Opposite Surprise' by Italian illustrator Agnese Baruzzi is a wonderful board book, where each page concertinas open to totally transform the picture to great delight.

Minedition is a fantastic German publisher, who gather international authors and illustrators to publish some of the most original books, so come take a look at the others that they publish.

'Detective Dog' by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie
This week, the shortlist for the Oxfordshire Book Awards was published, and amongst some of our favourite Oxfordshire-based authors being on the list (yay!) there was also 'Detective Dog' by Julia Donaldson - one of this year's £1 book authors.

Peter's Dog Nell has an incredible sense of smell, which means he's first on the case if there's a mystery to solve. But Nell also goes to school and listens to the children reading, so when they arrive one morning to find all the school books have disappeared - this is tailor-made for our snigging canine sleuth. It's a fast-paced celebration of books, reading, libraries, and the relationship between a little boy and his rather special dog.

'Butterfly Dance' by Suzanne Barton
Published next week, local author and illustrator Suzanne Barton - who transformed out window a few years back with artwork from her brilliant debut 'Robin's Winter Song' - Butterfly Dance is another sublimely beautiful mixture of art and story.

Caterpillars Dotty and Stripe do everything together. They play, they eat leaves and do all sorts of caterpiller-y things, and then one day, after spinning themselves into snuggly cocoons, they wake up as beautiful butterflies! But soon they realise that, for the first time ever, they look different. Should Dotty only play with butterflies that look like her? And Stripe only play with butterflies that look like him? It's a stunningly illustrated story about friendship and and being happy with who you are,

'The Goblin Princess: The Grand Goblin Ball' by Jenny O'Connor and Kate Willis-Crowley
We loved Jenny O'Connor's first story of Matty, the Goblin Princess, a fun, delightful story illustrated by Kate Willis-Crowley. In this follow-up, there is to be a grand Goblin Ball at the Goblin Castle and when the fairy twins Teasel and Tansy get lost in the woods, they end up at hobgoblin mountain and overhear the hobgoblins planning to invade the Goblin castle and CLEAN IT!!! Will Teasel and Tansy be able to get to the castle in time to warn Princess Matty or will the Hobgoblins carry out their fiendish plan?

'Ned's Circus of Marvels' by Justin Fisher
Ned always thought he was just a normal boy. But on his thirteenth birthday he is thrown into a world he knows nothing about - a world where magic is REAL. When he discovers the truth about who and what he is, secrets held for many years come pouring forth and Ned's life is changed for ever. It turns out that only he can stop the world from being engulfed by monstrous beasts - and all he has to help him is a robot mouse, a girl witch...and the most amazing circus you'll ever read about.

Justin Fisher's day job is designing title sequences for big Hollywood movies (yes, that is an actual job) so those title sequences you see at the start of X-Men and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are probably down to him. And the feedback from young readers in the shop is that this book is awesome!

'Wed Wabbit' by Lissa Evans
We told everyone about 'Wed Wabbit' a few weeks back in the newsletter, but this is still one of our favourite books of the year so far. It's utter genius, extremely funny, and at times genuinely scary.

It's about a children's story book world that gets entangled with the real world, and things go horribly, horribly wrong. Although perfect for 9+, we think plenty of adults will enjoy it immensely - whether you see it as a satire on the modern world or just a brilliantly imaginative tale. A genuine must-read from one of our favourite authors!