Language & Literature

My Favourite (Favorite) Book

Writer Susannah Leigh was born in Canada and moved to UK when she was eight years old.  Jump! asked her about her favourite children’s book.

One of the nicest things about being an author (apart from being able to go to work in your pyjamas) is being invited to talk about books in schools. I love chatting to enthusiastic pupils about all things bookish. Usually the questions I am asked are ones I can answer easily.

‘How long does it take you write a book?’

‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

‘When did you write your first book?’

But at a school last week a student asked: ‘What is your favourite book?’

Now that’s a tough one.

I’ve read so many good books, how could I possibly choose my favourite?

And what if I haven’t read my favourite book yet? Indeed, what if it hasn’t even been written?

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Art & History

Great Women You Should Know: Betty Skelton

In our series of Great Women You Should Know … here comes daredevil and adventurer Betty Skelton

When she was eight, Betty fell in love with aeroplanes. She watched them flying over her house every day, she devoured books about them, and she begged her parents to take her to airfields where she would persuade pilots to take her on rides above the clouds.

Betty must have been a very persuasive person, because she also talked a young Navy pilot into giving the whole family flying lessons. And when I say whole family, I mean it: Betty flew her first plane solo when she was just twelve years old. She might have been a tiny daredevil, but she was so scared her mother would scold her for doing it that she kept it a secret for a week!

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Science, Nature and Tech

What is Juno?

There has been a lot of excitement about the Juno probe this week, but what is it and what is its mission?

What is Juno?

Juno is a spacecraft designed and operated by NASA, the US space agency. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on the 5th August 2011 and has taken almost 5 years to travel the 716 million kilometres to Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Juno is 3.5 metres in height, and when its solar arrays are extended it’s more than 20 metres across. These arrays are covered in more than 18,500 solar cells, which allows Juno to operate even when it’s at such a great distance from the Sun.

Screenshot 2016-07-07 at 11.03.21

(Image: NASA)

 

Why is it called Juno?

In Roman mythology Juno was the Queen of the gods. She was married to the king, Jupiter, who wasn’t always well-behaved. Juno had to peer through the clouds to discover what he was up to; the spacecraft is called Juno because it will be looking beneath the clouds that cover the surface of the planet Jupiter.

Aboard the Juno craft are 3 models of Lego minifigures: Jupiter, Juno and Galileo, who discovered in 1610 that Jupiter had moons.

From left to right: Galileo, Juno and Jupiter. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LEGO).

From left to right: Galileo, Juno and Jupiter. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LEGO).

What is it looking for?

Jupiter is enormous; it’s two and a half times larger than all the other planets in our solar system combined. It’s made entirely of gases and is believed to have no solid surface. The planet rotates at an immense speed, completing one rotation every ten hours, and telescopes have shown us that it has a cloudy atmosphere with colourful spots and stripes. The largest of these, known as the Great Red Spot, is a storm that is several times the size of Earth and has been raging for more than 300 years.

Jupiter. The Great Red Spot is clearly visible. (Image: NASA).

Jupiter. The Great Red Spot is clearly visible. (Image: NASA).

This mission is the first time that humans will be able to glimpse what lies beneath Jupiter’s cloudy atmosphere. The main objective is to understand how the planet formed and evolved, which will give us more information about the formation of gas giants as well as the rest of the solar system. Juno will also measure the quantities of water and ammonia within the atmosphere, examine the magnetic field that surrounds the planet, observe any polar auroras and measure the gravity to see whether a solid core may exist after all.

For more information about the Juno mission you can watch this video from Nasa, and have a look at the Juno mission webpage.

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Art & History

Falconry and the Tudors

Falconry and the Tudors

When you write a book that is set in a particular period of history, it is important to get the details correct. This means that writers of historical fiction have to do a lot of research.
The first scene of Katharine Edgar’s novel, Five Wounds takes place on a hillside in sixteenth century England, where her heroine, Nan, is hoping to see her young merlin falcon make its first kill. Katharine had find out all about falconry and the Tudors – the keeping and training of falcons, and other birds of prey.

When I showed the first scene of Five Wounds to some writing friends, some of them asked a question I wasn’t expecting. ‘How rich is Nan’s family? They live in a big house so why does she need to hunt for food?’

Good question!

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