Emma on Mars – Billy Dunne, illustrations by Vanessa Port

 Emma on Mars – Billy Dunne, illustrations by Vanessa Port, Maverick Publishing, 9781848867055, 2021 

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Picture Book

 What did you like about the book? This book uses a cute little story as a way of showing that we all need to take better care of our planet. In this story, a little girl named Emma becomes very upset about something she read in a book. She just discovered that nobody is really looking after our planet and that it is an awful mess. She has decided that she is going to move out–or rather up–all the way to Mars. She spends the rest of the morning designing a rocketship to travel to Mars. Her mother calls her to “lunch” but Emma hears “launch” so off she goes to Mars. As it turns out, Mars is not as wonderful as she thought it would be and she wants nothing better than to return to Earth and finally have some lunch. She then decides that instead of leaving her planet, she is going to take better care of it.  She sits down to write a long list of all kinds of things she and her family can do to help the Earth. This seems to work because at the end of the story, we see Emma planting a garden with her mother, her dad riding a bike instead of using a car, and solar panels installed on the house.

This is a funny little story but it is also a great way to introduce different ways children and their families can help protect the Earth–the book is a great tool to get the conversation started.

The illustrations are bright and colorful and children will get a kick out of seeing the funny things Emma uses for her space mission (such as a colander for a space helmet). I think children will also be able to spot some things in the illustrations that her parents are doing that might not be so good for the environment–and how this changes by the end of the book.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages of four and eight years old, especially if they are interested in doing some little activities to protect the Earth such as gardening, turning off lights, recycling, etc.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, science classrooms, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and eight years old.

Where would you shelve it? Picture Book

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, cute story with an important message.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: March 7, 2021

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