cover image First Day on a Strange New Planet: Blast Off Boy and Blorp: First Day on a Strange New Planet

First Day on a Strange New Planet: Blast Off Boy and Blorp: First Day on a Strange New Planet

Dan Yaccarino. Hyperion Books, $14.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0578-5

In this auspicious debut of the Blast Off Boy and Blorp series, Yaccarino (Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm Off to the Moon) grandly unveils the Galactic Space Exchange Program. ""Johnny Smith, dubbed `Blast Off Boy' by his hometown newspaper, had been chosen out of millions as the most average kid on the planet. He was being sent to represent Earth.... On planet Meep, a little green alien boy named Blorp Glorp was also making plans."" Yaccarino's characteristic illustrations with their retro palette and solid, nearly geometric shapes create ideal intergalactic scenes. Blast Off Boy, frowning inside his bubble space helmet, adjusts to school on Meep; meanwhile, turf-green, black-eyed Blorp takes human elementary schoolers by surprise (""The other students quietly moved their desks away from him""). Things do not go smoothly. Blast Off Boy becomes the center of attention among the robots and frankfurter-shaped monsters in his classroom (""All 67 eyes were on him""), and Blorp gets detention for mixing and drinking a chemistry-lab concoction. Yaccarino toggles between planets to contrast the first-day experiences, casting Blast Off Boy as hesitant, Blorp as a bouncy extrovert. The bulbous, ballooning paintings conjure a spacey weightlessness on the page, particularly when Blorp levitates in homeroom and when Blast Off Boy hides behind a transparent, amoebalike classmate. Yaccarino puts a fresh and funny spin on ordinary events like lunchtime and gym class, and builds plenty of anticipation for New Pet, an installment planned for release next fall. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)