cover image Dogs in Space

Dogs in Space

Nancy Coffelt. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200440-8

This eye-catching attempt to introduce children to the solar system combines whimsy and fact to ultimately unsuccessful effect. Coffelt's ( Good Night, Sigmund ) canines wear Flash Gordon space helmets and rocket belts as they fly to each planet--sneezing in the red dust on Mars, dodging asteroids en route to Jupiter. ``Even though there are no other dogs in space, or people, either, dogs in space like space. There are no cats in space. There are no fleas in space.'' On the other hand, there are no ``soft laps'' or ``crunchy dog bones'' either, so ``dogs in space go home, for now.'' This capacious and potentially confusing amalgam of planetary facts is followed by a three-page, small print, encyclopedic text about the solar system (``The Solar System is what we call the family of nine planets, their moons, and the countless other celestial bodies that circle the Sun.''). While Coffelt's bold, neon-colored pastels on black paper are arresting (resembling the scratch paintings of childhood), this hybrid of fact and fancy will likely puzzle the preschoolers for whom it is intended. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)