cover image Dmitri the Astronaut

Dmitri the Astronaut

Jon Agee. HarperCollins, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205074-8

Like Agee's (The Return of Freddy LeGrande; The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau) previous protagonists, his latest lead character accomplishes what should be a loudly heralded feat: Dmitri has just returned from the moon, where he has spent two and a half years collecting rocks. Alas, no one remembers the poor fellow. Worse yet, his mission seems to be old news--he spies a neglected exhibit at the Museum of Intergalactic Exploration displaying a space suit, rock-collecting sack and moon specimens identical to his. Observant youngsters will gasp when the dejected astronaut throws his sack of rocks into a trash can, for they know something he doesn't. In Agee's title page art, they've seen Lulu, Dmitri's pink, polka-dotted lunar pal, scurrying into the bag before his liftoff from the moon. Thanks to the long-snouted Lulu, who has a knack for producing art any preschooler will find very familiar, the forgotten space explorer finally gets the recognition he knows he deserves. The wry humor of Agee's clever book springs in equal measure from the minimal, tongue-in-cheek text and adroitly exaggerated cartoon illustrations. The telltale particulars Agee tucks into his pictures let kids fill in the blanks--and keeps them a step or two ahead of his Chaplinesque hero. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)