cover image XO, Exoplanet

XO, Exoplanet

Deborah Underwood, illus. by Jorge Lacera. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5743-7

“The planets were swirling around the sun, as usual,” writes Underwood, when Neptune, peering through binoculars, spots another planet “circling another star, far, far, away!” The planets dispatch a “welcome to the galaxy” letter, but when they blithely address the recipient as “Exoplanet”—a planet outside the solar system—civility fails to launch. The planet insists that since it’s circling “MY sun,” the solar system planets are the real exoplanets; the squabble escalates, playground-style. Lacera’s digital cartoons render planets as vivid characters: Jupiter, the blowhard leader, turns beet-red with rage, egged on by minion moons. A passing comet finally points out that who’s “in” or “out” depends where one stands—or, as the planets sum up, “To us, you are an exoplanet. But to you, WE are the exoplanets. But no matter what anyone calls us, we are all round objects that travel around a star,” delivering a contemporarily incisive message with a light touch. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)