Earth to Stella!

Simon Puttock, Author, Philip Hopman, Illustrator Clarion Books $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-58535-9
When Stella requests ""a space story, please"" before going to bed, she wastes no time inventing her own in Puttock's (Ladder to the Stars) adventure-filled bedtime book. ""Earth to Stella: Don't forget to scrub behind your ears!"" her father advises. "" 'Check!' says Stella, because that's what astronauts say when they mean yes."" Hopman's bright, whimsical illustrations picture Stella blasting off in a spaceship shaped like a chicken, while her father's bedtime instructions appear as comic book speech bubbles, as if they were orders coming directly from Houston's command center. While the illustrations show Stella bouncing in her astronaut's gear on the moon's craters, her father shouts up, ""Earth to Stella: No jumping on the bed!"" The heroine's imagination takes her around the galaxy and back again but not before she discovers bug-like aliens-""Stella to Earth: We are not alone! I have discovered new life forms, and they are very nice."" And instead of the promised bedtime story at book's end, a final image shows Stella and her father riding off together in the chicken spaceship so she can introduce him to her new space friends. Young readers may be initially confused, since Stella doesn't blast off from her bedroom, and thus neither the closing text nor art suggest that Stella's adventures occur in her own imagination. Nonetheless, the comedy of juxtaposing earthbound bedtime activities with Stella's Flash Gordon derring-do will appeal especially to adventuresome girls. Ages 3-7.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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