cover image We Have Lift-Off!

We Have Lift-Off!

Sean Taylor, illus. by Hannah Shaw. Frances Lincoln/Otter-Barry (PGW, dist.), $1

“Animals in space” is a premise with potential, but a moralistic environmental message drains some of the fun in this outing from the team behind Crocodiles Are the Best Animals of All. Narration comes from “the first chicken in outer space,” who describes the conditions on Mr. Tanner’s farm that prompt the animals to build a rocket to escape: “Mr. Tanner poisoned the air with smoke... and filled the river with junk... and cut down all the trees... and crammed us animals into a crumbling barn.” Before the animals can leave Earth behind, they must conduct a successful test flight. The chicken is at the helm of their patchwork rocket for the first attempt, but she’s holding the map upside down, causing the rocket to plummet back to Earth; the increasingly battered rocket fares just as poorly during two subsequent test runs. Shaw’s scraggly cartooning and determined animals provide plenty of visual humor, but the concluding moral (“So if you’re one of the people who makes a mess of our planet... watch out!”) does a bit of a crash landing itself. Ages 4–7. (Jan.)