cover image Space Travellers

Space Travellers

Margaret Wild, Author, Gregory Rogers, Illustrator Scholastic $14.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-590-45598-5

This unusual picture book, a portrait of an urban homeless community, features a loving mother and son whose only misfortune is to be socially displaced. Mandy and Zac sleep at night in a rocket-shaped sculpture in the city park; the boy's fertile imagination has the pair hurtling through outer space. Their (rather bleak) reality, however, consists of bathing in train station restrooms and procuring food from other homeless people who have been helped by merchants' donations. When their luck turns and Zac and Mandy are able to share a house with friends (``Just think! A room of our own!''), they bequeath their ``rocket'' to an effervescent homeless woman named Dorothy--`` `Mine!' And the sun is in her smile, and a million billion stars in her eyes.'' Both author and illustrator have taken care to present their collaboration as gentle and poignant while retaining the realism of the situation. In Rogers's warm, grainy illustrations the characters are affectionately portrayed as more eccentric than poor. A commendable book that adroitly addresses a very real contemporary problem. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)