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Orson Blasts Off!

Orson Blasts Off!

by Raul Colon

What's a megabyte-loving kid to do when his computer breaks?
Join Orson and his sidekick, Weasel, on a hair-raising adventure where they touch the North Pole...watch the eye of a storm wink...and fall through a black hole in outer space.
Readers (but maybe not their parents!) will be amazed at what can


What's a megabyte-loving kid to do when his computer breaks?
Join Orson and his sidekick, Weasel, on a hair-raising adventure where they touch the North Pole...watch the eye of a storm wink...and fall through a black hole in outer space.
Readers (but maybe not their parents!) will be amazed at what can happen when a creative kid is forced away from his computer screen. Raúl Colón's picture book is filled with delicious word-play and all the fun of a comic book.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Imagination takes flight in Col n's (Rise the Moon) familiar but pleasantly illustrated dream story, which begins when a boy's computer crashes. "I'm bored already!" moans Orson, at which point a jack-in-the-box next to his nightstand pops to life. "Excuse me, sir," says the toy, speaking in a deferential servant's voice. "It is I, Weasel. May I kindly ask you to step outside?" "I don't do outside," Orson grumbles, but when he looks out expecting a hot July day, he sees snow on the ground. Delighted, he straps tennis-racquet snowshoes onto his feet, tucks Weasel into a backpack and explores an Arctic landscape populated with walruses and a polar bear (which readers will recognize from his bedroom d cor). When he and Weasel go adrift on an ice floe, he's saved by a whale's tail (another element from his bedroom posters) and later "blasts off" into a universe of basketball planets and a ladle in place of the Big Dipper. Finally he wakes up in his own bed. "I guess I'll go play... outside," he says. The tale unfolds in dialogue, with black type representing Orson's voice and blue type standing in for Weasel's. An unnecessary glossary to define expressions like "North Pole" and "black hole" unfortunately points up the shortcomings of the unconvincing fantasy. On the other hand, Colon's rainbow of warm watercolor and pencil hues on textured paper, and his illusory images backlit with a yolky, golden yellow, emphasize the appeal of good old-fashioned make-believe over electronic games. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
When a young boy's computer breaks down, he is disheartened that he is no longer able to play his beloved cyber games. Boredom sets in quickly, and he falls asleep. The dream sequence that follows involves a jack-in-the-box that comes to life and serves as a tour guide as the boy heads outside to explore, a concept that is both foreign and distasteful to him due to his passion for indoor computer play. The boy and his box visit the North Pole. There they see walruses and a polar bear, jump in a boat and get caught up in the eye of a storm, are gratefully saved by a friendly whale, and create a rocket ship that allows them close viewing of several stars, planets, comets, meteors, and a black hole that ultimately brings them home again. Upon waking, the boy realizes the joy of being outside and the power of his own mind. He thus relinquishes his dependence upon the computer. The dream sequence lacks creativity and is predictable as soon as the boy decides to rest on his bed while he grumbles about his sorry state of affairs. The greatest strength of the book is its illustrations. Done in watercolor, colored pencils, and litho pencils, the images are grounded in a repetitive color scheme that draws heavily on blues and browns. This serves to parallel the lull of the dream and connect images from one to the next as the boy travels from place to place in his imagination. 2004, Atheneum, Ages 4 to 8.
—Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A flight not only into imaginary realms but also into the delicious world of language awaits readers in this fanciful journey. Disgruntled about his broken computer, Orson pouts in his room until Weasel, a jack-in-the-box, suggests he look outside. "Outside? I don't do outside," retorts the boy. However, when he discovers that the ground is covered in snow (it's July), he makes snowshoes out of tennis rackets and sets off with Weasel to explore. They are caught in bad weather, and Orson hopes that the "eye" of the storm will see them and save them. When a whale rescues them, the boy can't wait to share this "whale of a tale." Back on land, Orson makes a rocket, blasts off, falls into a "black hole," and is finally jolted awake. Colon's familiar textured illustrations, rendered in watercolor and colored pencils, are large and bordered in white. Some of the paintings cover expansive spreads, such as the image of the boy traversing an Arctic landscape complete with seals sprawled on blue-white ice. Alert children will make connections between the titles of Orson's computer games, the pictures that decorate his room, and his dream adventures. A glossary explains the scientific terms and idiomatic expressions used in the story. Pair this imaginative offering with Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's Favorite Things (Dial, 2003) to lure youngsters away from their computers and into escapades of their own.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A much-praised illustrator files a Chris Van Allsburg-style flight plan for his first solo outing. After his computer croaks and he's finished jumping up and down, young Orson exchanges disgust for delight when his suddenly animate jack-in-the-box suggests a venture outside. "Outside? I don't do outside," is Orson's first response-but soon he's off on an eager trek to the North Pole, followed by a stormy sea voyage aboard an origami boat, and a quick tour of the universe in a cardboard rocket. The pictures take a front seat here, their combed surfaces and multiple color layers adding both a sense of motion and a dreamlike quality, while the brief all-dialogue text-in which Orson's springy sidekick sounds remarkably like C-3PO: "Ten . . . this is madness . . . seven, six, five . . . madness, I say'-occasionally gives way to a wordless page or spread. Col-n also tucks in some playful images, such as an actual pole at the North Pole, and a Big Dipper floating among the stars-all of which he feels compelled to explain at the end. Happily, this pedantic afterthought doesn't sour the sweep and exuberance of Orson's odyssey. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
12.34(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Raúl Colón is the acclaimed illustrator of Libba Moore Gray's My Mama Had a Dancing Heart, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; A Weave of Words by Robert D. San Souci; and, most recently, Eileen Spinelli's Rise the Moon, called "beautiful" in a starred review from Booklist. He lives with his family in New City, New York.

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