It's the year 2106 and 5 kids have been selected for a trip to Mars. Their story is told in the form of emails that they send to friends back home on planet Earth. This is a clever way to impart factual information to readers about the solar system and Mars. Readers will learn that Mars has two moons, that its northern and southern poles are covered with ice, that it has less gravity than Earth because it is smaller in size, along with a variety of other space trivia. The illustrations are a combination of photographs of Mars provided by NASA and drawn illustrations. At the back of the book, a timeline of significant moments in Mars history is provided along with a comparison between Mars and Earth facts, a list of some of the current questions that are puzzling scientists about Mars today, a vocabulary list, and an explanation of the metric system.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-In the year 2106, seven travelers, much like those in Leedy's Postcards from Pluto (Holiday House, 1993), go to Mars. Via e-mails home, the young crew members describe the voyage, make comparisons between Earth and Mars, and revisit sites of previous exploratory-craft landings. Leedy's colorful cartoons, authentic photographs from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal Tech, and much factual information are incorporated into the story. Anticipating a time in the near future when humans will set foot on the Red Planet, the authors express the wonder of exploration and the possibility of a colony there. The book updates Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaughnessy's more detailed The Mystery of Mars (Crown, 1999). The authors note that scientific research continues and that updates will be posted on their Web site. Schuerger is an astrobiologist and manager of the Kennedy Space Center's Mars projects. A welcome addition.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Next best thing to a real field trip, Leedy and her astrobiologist husband send a 22nd-century class on an excursion to Mars. Boarding a "spacejet" rather than a magic school bus, the children, while en route, report back in chatty email messages on the solar system in general. After landing, they send meaty observations on Martian climate, atmosphere and physical features as they visit the sites of various early missions, from Viking I to the Spirit Rover, and finally fetch up in the lush gardens beneath the dome of Marsbase Alpha. Around and within eye-filling, crisply reproduced color photos of the Martian surface, Leedy adds cartoon figures, labels, diagrams and insets for a full but never overcrowded look, and closes with a timeline, source URLs for the photos and a look at Martian mysteries that remain to be solved. Backed up by yet more information on her web site, this will please both casual and detail-hungry young readers, and makes a lively update for Franklyn Branley's Mission To Mars (2002), illustrated by True Kelley. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)