Mars’ First Friends by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli. Sourcebook Wonderland, 9781728205182, 2020
Format: ARC (Hardcover available June, 2020)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? This book is a great way to introduce young children to the unique features of the planets in our solar system. The story begins with Mars being very frustrated and bored because he has no one to play with or keep him company. He goes to his father, the Sun, to ask for a pet. The Sun informs him that he has plenty of siblings (the other planets) and to ask one of them to keep him company. So Mars sets off to each planet. As he asks each one to play, we see the unique features of all the planets–Neptune and Pluto stay out where it is cold and they even keep Pluto out with them, Saturn prefers to swing in her rings by herself, Jupiter is busy keeping track of all his moons, Earth is preoccupied with putting half of the humans to sleep while waking up the other half, Venus needs to rest because she is overheated, and Mercury is so small he needs to stay close to the Sun. Mars becomes very disappointed until Earth sends a little surprise–two rovers named Spirit and Opportunity. Mars and these two rovers had so much fun with craters, dust storms, and rock collecting that Mars finally knew he had two special friends.
Even though this book contains nonfiction information, it is very much a silly story about a lonely little planet. The illustrations are comical using human characteristics to capture the features of the planets. This includes Neptune and Pluto having cool blue colors, the Sun’s rays appear as a bearded look, Saturn almost looks like a young girl twirling around in something glittery, Jupiter has a concerned expression while keeping track of all the moons, Earth is yawning, Mercury has a pacifier to show he is little, and Venus appears to be emitting steam. These illustrations help to make the features of the planets more memorable. The back of the book contains further information about the planets in our solar system and also some of the exploratory missions to Mars.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? This book would be perfect for children between the ages of four and seven. This would be a great introductory book for young children expressing an interest in space. The story is fun and silly but also contains facts about the planets and our solar system. Additional information is provided for those children that want to learn a little more about this topic.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, daycare centers, preschools, anyone that works with children between the ages of four and seven, also perfect for science classrooms.
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: January 11, 2020