You Are the First Kid on Mars

Patrick O'Brien, Author . Putnam $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-24634-0

O'Brien (Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery ) takes an inventive leap into the future, bringing readers on a journey to Mars. Made captivatingly real by stunning, photographlike digital art, the adventure begins as a child boards an “elevator car” that ascends along cables to reach an elaborate space station. A “Nuclear Thermal Rocket” docked there then embarks on a four-month journey to a space station orbiting Mars, from which a “lander” ship delivers the crew and young passenger to the planet's surface. The thrilled kid finally gets to explore the planet (“Gravity on Mars is less than half as strong as on Earth, so you take big, bouncing steps”), making his way to a habitat that houses scientists. O'Brien generates dramatic graphic particulars: sophisticated robotic machines perform various tasks and a sleek “MarsPlane” flies over the breathtaking Valles Marineris canyon. Though the second-person narrative makes the action feel immediate, when coupled with O'Brien's depiction of the protagonist as a Caucasian boy, it may leave non-white, non-male readers unable to connect. Still, this intriguing vision of space exploration should set imaginations soaring. Ages 5–up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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