Heart On Pluto by Karl Jones, illustrated by Andrew J. Ross

    Heart On Pluto by Karl Jones, illustrated by Andrew J. Ross, Penguin Workshop, 9780593096291, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  This simple, short and very small (about 5” x 7”) book tells the story of the New Horizons spacecraft, which flew all the way to Pluto to observe and send back photos in 2015. The craft is cute and the information is presented as a first person narrative, all told in the voice of a young child. Accompanying diagrams and New Horizon’s thoughts are done in a scribbly crayon font, which reinforces the concept. The attractive illustrations look like a combination of wavy lithographic lines and collage, but may be digital. Still, they have a lot of texture and depth and with its bright yellow skin, the New Horizon is easy to pick out and looks very cheerful. We watch as a rocket gets ready for blast-off and then, later on,  as the little machine buzzes across the solar system, watched by scientists on a huge monitor. Along the way, we learn a bit about Pluto: that it’s now referred to as a dwarf planet, that it’s one of the most distant objects in our solar system and that it has a heart shape on its surface. A list of facts about Pluto finishes off the text. I didn’t know that Pluto had a heart on its surface or that this is actually made of frozen nitrogen, which I learned in the end notes.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Unfortunately, I didn’t learn much about Pluto from this book. The facts covered in the story are well-known; presumably any 4-6 year-old interested in planets already knows the basics.  And unfortunately, the book didn’t provide information about New Horizons; it shows the rocket, but where was NH and how did it get out? How big is it? How does it get its power? What’s its mission and how does it take pictures? This story could definitely be told in age-appropriate language and would have been fascinating! 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Very young readers interested in Pluto, although if they are looking for photos or information on New Horizons, they won’t find it here.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 523.4922

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 8, 2020

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