Sklansky contrasts light verse about the universe with facts about outer space (which appear in sidebars) in this gentle collection, while Schuett combines homey gouache cartoons with digitally rendered intergalactic details. After a pair of siblings blast off in a rocket, “The Earth/ fills/ their window/ and then/ drops away,/ like a/ basketball/ baseball/ golfball/ marble./ How far from home/ they’ve traveled today.” Another boy contemplates visiting the planets, allowing Sklansky to work in some additional science (“On Venus, I could marvel/ at a sunrise in the west./ Nice... except sulfuric clouds/ do not encourage guests”). An evocative mix of the whimsical and the scientific. Ages 5–9. Agent: April Prince, Studio Goodwin Sturges. Illustrator’s agent: Christina Tugeau. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, February 2012:
"An evocative mix of the whimsical and the scientific."
School Library Journal:
"The picture-book blend of poetry, nonfiction, and vivid extraterrestrial views is an inviting browsing item and an attractive introduction to space travel."
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Through the twenty poems about space and astronomy, readers discover a fascination for space travel and exploration that humans have shared for generations. The fun poems are accompanied and supported by sidebars with facts about space and about astronomy. For example, there are facts and a poem about packing to go to the moon that details what the Apollo 11 astronauts took with them on their historic mission, and then asks readers to think about what they would take if they were going to the moon. Readers learn that the bright light they associate with the moon is actually a reflection of the sun's light; the moon does not generate its own light. There is a haiku poem about the astronaut footprints on the surface of the moon and the accompanying sidebar explains that the footprints will likely last as long as the moon itself does. The artwork that illustrates the book is a combination of paintings and computer-generated images, lending both wonder and charm to the book. The factoids in the sidebars are valuable by themselves and are particularly useful for a class unit on astronomy. This is one of the better books about outer space for younger readers and it is very highly recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Through poetry and factual explanations, Sklansky introduces the physical characteristics of celestial bodies, the work of astronauts, and various spacecraft. The opening verses are minimal phrasings of a countdown and a blast-off from Earth through layers of atmosphere to outer space. "Troposphere,/Stratosphere/Mesosphere,/Thermosphere/Exosphere/(I'm outta here!)/SPACE." This poem, along with some others, takes visual shape, written in white type ascending on a sloping plane from darkened Earth on the lower left up through shadowy layers to a tiny spacecraft heading into the stars on the far upper right. The selections—some haiku, many brief pieces, and longer poems in rhyming verse—are set into broad, usually dark, digitally produced scenes with columns of related factual explanation at the outer edge of the pages. The illustrations include both the bold images familiar from space photography and several homey pictures of children in their rooms or viewing the heavenly action from out of doors. Though some of the children lend a somewhat younger look to the book than its likely readers, these scenes serve nicely to remind viewers that they are part of the grand, handsome space scene. Bright in tone, the poems touch on Sputnik 1, space suits, sleeping arrangements, meteoroids, footprints on the Moon, and more. "Packing for the Moon" nicely lists the lucky mementos Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins carried on their historic journey. The picture-book blend of poetry, nonfiction, and vivid extraterrestrial views is an inviting browsing item and an attractive introduction to space travel.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Each of these 20 short poems for young readers is accompanied by information on the geography of space and its human exploration, exemplified by the Apollo 11 mission. A cover showing an old constellation map and endpapers with a Hubble-like image of a spiral galaxy set the stage for this combination of facts and poetry. Sklansky (Skeleton Bones and Goblin Groans, 2004) uses a variety of simple forms, some rhyming, some free verse. She touches on superstition (wishing on a star), science (the sun is "[f]usion profusion") and mythology. There's an acrostic about the moon and a shape poem about the universe. Each poem is set on a digital-and-gouache image which extends most of the way across a spread or page, leaving a narrow column of black for a paragraph or so of related information. Though science terms are used (but not defined), the narrative sometimes talks down to the reader. "In order to reach space, a spaceship has to go really fast to break free from the powerful pull of Earth's gravity." Similarly, all the astronauts shown in the illustrations are children. Likely to appeal to a younger audience than Douglas Florian's Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars (2007), this would be a satisfactory, if rather mundane, companion. (Informational picture book/poetry. 5-9)