cover image Martian Rock

Martian Rock

Carol Diggory Shields. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0598-8

The creators of Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp team up for a playful interplanetary trek that follows four Martians on a mission to find alien life. The travelers' first destination is the distant Orb Number Nine, which Earthlings call Pluto: ""It was dreary and dark,/ and mostly all granite./ They radioed home--/ `No life on this planet.' "" The Martians work backward through the inhospitable Neptune, Uranus and Saturn, but at Jupiter ""they decided to beat it./ `If anything lives here,/ we don't want to meet it!' "" Before heading home, they land pessimistically upon the blue-and-green Orb Number Three. At last, in a twist similar to that of Neil Layton's Smile If You're Human, the aliens meet some friendly organisms--a flock of playful penguins--and present them with a souvenir ""Martian rock."" Nash, like Layton, models the buglike, antennaed aliens on a vacationing family. He takes comic liberties with their bright red hovercraft, which looks like a 1950s-era car with tail fins and includes an ovoid silver trailer. An informative afterword nicely recaps all the Orbs in the Martians' solar system. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)