Packing for Mars for Kids

by Mary Roach (Author)

Packing for Mars for Kids
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) asks the questions children ask in this young readers adaptation of her best-selling Packing for Mars.

What is it like to float weightlessly in the air? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a spacewalk? How do astronauts go to the bathroom? Is it true that they don’t shower? Can farts really be deadly in space?

Best-selling Mary Roach has the answers. In this whip-smart, funny, and informative young readers adaptation of her best-selling Packing for Mars, Roach guides us through the irresistibly strange, frequently gross, and awe-inspiring realm of space travel and life without gravity. From flying on NASA’s Weightless Wonder to eating space food, Packing for Mars for Kids is chock-full of firs-hand experiences and thorough research. Roach has crafted an authoritative and accessible book.


Starred Review
Streamlined to a cool seven chapters, Roach’s book digs into the fun, the gross, and the unexpected challenges of space travel with a level of detail not typically seen in kid’s books.

School Library Journal

Gr 5-7--In this trimmed version of her book for adults, science journalist Roach explores the nitty gritty--and the icky, slimy, and stinky--aspects of living in space. Based on interviews with astronauts and NASA researchers, as well as an actual ride (with sound effects) on the infamous "Vomit Comet," and a literal spin on a testing device dubbed the "rotating chair," she describes in rousing detail how some of the less savory challenges of space flight were tackled or endured: finding ways to dispose of body waste and (mostly in a chapter memorably titled "Barfing on the Ceiling") to cope with motion sickness; living for days or weeks in confined cabins with people who can't wash or change clothes; and more. Along the way she acquaints readers with the ins and (unfortunately) outs of NASA's "dreaded fecal bag," explains how gravity affects nearly everything we commonly do, and tucks in details that are likely to be new even to confirmed students of space travel--such as the corned beef sandwich astronaut John Young smuggled aboard Gemini 3, and the stamina of Gemini 7 astronaut Frank Borman, said to have gone nine days in orbit without defecating. An adequate selection of period photos offers glimpses of grimly smiling astronauts of both sexes, as well as clear views of space food, space toilets, and ground-based training facilities. VERDICT Along with plenty of laughter, this work may engender even more respect for the toughness of those first generations of space travelers.--John Edward Peters

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Norton Young Readers
Publication date
April 20, 2022

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