cover image The Spaceman

The Spaceman

Randy Cecil. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-2616-4

Exiting its spaceship, the itinerant spaceman of this picture book’s title immediately deems this latest stop on a soil-collection tour to be “a rather ordinary planet.” But as the being loses its spacecraft and the story unfolds, first-person narration and close-hatched illustrations by Cecil (Douglas)—whose oil brushstrokes imbue every object with remarkable depth—show readers that not only has the orange, space-suited figure arrived on Earth, but also that it is diminutive compared to the planet’s insects and flowers. Alarmed at first, the spaceman takes a multi-page, aerial tour via butterfly and is filled with wonder; its once world(s)-weary face, which features a hairless head and googly eyes, now wears an expression of unadulterated happiness. Befriended by a slobber-happy pooch, the character realizes, “What a surprise it was to hear myself laughing. To find myself playing. What a joy to simply sit together enjoying the gentle breeze.” Responsibilities on other planets await—but what if leaving this paradise were to become impossible? With its openhearted protagonist and self-affirming ending, this sojourn celebrates the profound joy that comes with finally finding where one belongs. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)