Skip to main content


Beyond the Moon: Two readers to travel in space

April 07, 2020 by Nóra Wünsch-Nagy

In the last on our series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we present some Helbling readers which will launch you and your students into space.

We have already looked at Moony Goes on Holiday this time we show you the picturebook Paul learns to plan from The Thinking Train Series, and the reader Next Door in the Helbling Readers Red series.

Paul learns to plan Paul learns to plan


Paul learns to plan

The story was written by Herbert Puchta and Gavin Biggs, and illustrated by Vanessa Lovegrove.

Level: The Thinking Train series, Level D – Cambridge Young Learners English Movers – Trinity 2


Paul needs to study for his tests in school, but he also needs to finish his online space game before the aliens come. Paul finds tests very difficult: the more he tries to remember, the more he seems to forget! It’s terrible! How can Paul’s parents and friends help him to find time to study and time to relax?

Paul learns to plan pages 22-23
Double page illustration from Paul learns to plan (The Thinking Train Series) written by Herbert Puchta and Gavin Biggs. Illustrated by Vanessa Lovegrove. © Helbling Languages


Thinking skills

The story shows children how important it is to keep a balance between studying and taking breaks, which can also mean playing computer games. It also talks about learning strategies and the importance of asking for advice in the family as well as making wise choices for a healthy life-study balance. What’s more, it highlights how lucky Paul is to have parents who support and help him in finding the best way to learn.

Space link

In the story, Paul plays an online space game and dreams of becoming an astronaut when he grows up. The illustrations reflect his love of space: you will see images of space with the planets, the stars, meteors and an astronaut. In the After Reading activities, you can learn about the solar system and practise using superlatives to describe the planets.

Vocabulary and grammar

In this book, children will learn or revise the following:

  • school subjects
  • jobs
  • the solar system
  • hobbies/talents
  • giving advice
  • superlatives

The structure of the book and online resources

In the book there are Before Reading activities, After Reading activities and a Make and Do project, which explains how to make a sand timer.

In the story pages we will find questions in small boxes which invite the students to think, speak or look for details in the illustration.

On Helbling e-zone, you will find five fun games. Go to and enter the access code which can be found in the book. You can also listen to the story here.

A Big Book for shared reading is also available.

Helbling Readers Red Series Fiction Next Door


Next Door

The story was written by Robert Campbell, and illustrated by Giovanni da Re.

Level: Helbling Readers Red Series, Level 1 – CEFR A1


When a new family with a twin brother and sister move next door to Eoin, strange things start to happen. The kids at school make fun of the twins and say that they are from another planet. But Eoin decides to find out where they really come from.

Next Door
Eoin in his room. Illustration by Giovanni da Re. © Helbling Languages


The book

The story is written in the form of a blog, in which Eoin writes something every day. We follow the blog over eight days from Thursday to the following Friday, and we also read some of the dialogues that Eoin writes about.

The Before Reading activities introduce new vocabulary: astronomy, prepositions and some special words to know.

The After Reading activities guide students through personal response, text comprehension, talking about the characters, plus the plot and the theme. There is also an Exit Test and a Projects page, which inspires students to keep a blog for five days.

In the story pages, there is a glossary in the footnote to help with difficult vocabulary, and there are reflection boxes which involve the students in thinking about interesting topics in the story.

Space link

Eoin’s hobby is astronomy. Throughout the story, we read about studying the sky and the planets. And we also find out if it is possible to meet people from another planet today.

A class project

A class of 2nd year high school level students, from the Liceo delle Scienze Applicate ’G. Marconi’ in Tortona sent us a story they wrote as a sequel to the story. You can read about this creative writing project in our blog post, in which we asked the Nadia Roncoli, the teacher of the class to tell us more about the idea.