There's Nothing to Do on Mars

Overview

When Davey Martin's family moves to Mars, he discovers that there's nothing to do—at least until he and his robot dog Polaris learn to seize the spirit of adventure. It's not until they've zipped around the planet on his flying scooter—climbing Martian "trees," digging up "fossils," dancing in Martian rain dances—that they discover a treasure that finally piques Davey's interest—a source of water on the red planet!

Chris Gall's new picture book plays on the themes (and ironies) ...

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Overview

When Davey Martin's family moves to Mars, he discovers that there's nothing to do—at least until he and his robot dog Polaris learn to seize the spirit of adventure. It's not until they've zipped around the planet on his flying scooter—climbing Martian "trees," digging up "fossils," dancing in Martian rain dances—that they discover a treasure that finally piques Davey's interest—a source of water on the red planet!

Chris Gall's new picture book plays on the themes (and ironies) of a complaint parents have heard from their children a thousand times: "There's nothing to do!" The book also offers a deeper lesson to our stationary, convenience-driven society: If you're creative and look carefully, you'll be amazed at what you find!

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
The story is fun, but the illustrations are spectacular. A note says they were done "by hand engraving clay-coated board and processing the result with the same space-age device used by NASA to help send men to the moon." A computer, presumably. Whatever the method, the results are a richly colorful blend of comic-book whimsy, woodcut-style realism and space-age precision.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Davey and his pioneer parents may live on the Red Planet, but conditions are far from rosy. "The nights were very cold. The dust storms were terrible.... 'I'm bored!' Davey shouted one day." Davey and his leaky robot dog glumly explore the dry, rocky terrain, where they dig up "an old toy"-a six-wheeled object that space buffs will recognize as a long-lost NASA Rover. All Davey's activities emphasize the lack of water (and the promise of it): He climbs a desiccated tree and plays with amphibious-looking Martians who "had not been able to take a bath in a very long time, and... smelled worse than skunks." Davey accidentally stumbles upon a gushing water source, thereby alleviating his boredom and radically changing his planet. Gall envisions Mars's surface as an austere Sedona landscape, carved with rust-red, pumpkin-orange and wheat-gold canyons. He produces his linocut-style compositions with hand-engraved, clay-coated boards, and the smooth results are striking but impersonal. Where these stylized images imply an almost corporate aesthetic, the endpapers present "Davey Martin's Mars Journal (Top Secret!)," in a chalky white scrawl on terracotta paper; ironically, the comic first-person approach here tells more about Davey's personality than the story itself does. Ages 3-6. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- Davey is not thrilled about moving to Mars. When he grumpily declares, "I'm bored," his father tells him to go out and play. The boy repeats that phrase throughout the story as he and his robotic dog board a small rocket "scooter" and go off on incredible adventures. They build a fortress (Davey grumbles that the rocks are all red) and dig for treasure (finding only an "old toy"-an abandoned NASA land rover). They meet froglike Martians who smell (they can't wash because Mars has no water). When they zoom to a mountaintop and dig in a crater, things start rolling and thundering, and they escape just as an eruption sends water rushing all over the planet. With water now readily available, Mars becomes densely populated by humans. To escape congestion the family moves to Saturn, and the last page shows Davey sliding on one of its rings. The illustrations, created with an engraving technique, are precisely drawn and appropriately painted in scorching reds and oranges. The layout combines full-spread pictures with multiple panels in graphic-novel style. Amusing details-the family's spaceship resembles a souped-up camper; Davey wears jeans, sneakers, and a globelike helmet-extend the text and play off the deadpan humor. This book will be popular with young explorers who have dreamed of interstellar travel.-Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Following a story arc that's been popular at least since Ellen Raskin's Nothing Ever Happens On My Block! (1966), young Davey fails to find anything to relieve his boredom in the rugged Martian landscape-not the fish skeleton, the giant face, the half-buried Mars Rover or even the horde of froggy Martians leaping about in a wild (and, of course, futile) rain dance. Engraved on clay-coated board and then digitally finished, Gall's dazzling illustrations feature sharply defined, naturally posed figures placed against big, orange, wind-sculpted rocks beneath a greenish sky. Witty details abound, from Davey's home, which is an old Airstream trailer perched atop a giant rocket motor, to his pop-eyed robot dog, who tends to leak battery fluid when stressed. Ultimately, Davey finds all the adventure he could want when he digs into the crater atop Olympus Mons and unleashes a titanic flood-but then the neighborhood quickly becomes overcrowded with new arrivals, and Davey's dad suggests moving on to Saturn. There probably won't be much to do there, either, right? (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316166843
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 1 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.08 (w) x 10.16 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Gall

Chris Gall is the award-winning author and illustrator of Dear Fish, There's Nothing to Do on Mars, and his most recent, Dinotrux, a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2009. His books have received numerous starred reviews and awards including a Borders Original Voices Book for 2006 for Dear Fish and a Kirkus Best Children's Book for 2008 for There's Nothing to Do on Mars. Chris has won a multitude of awards from organizations like the Society of Illustrators and Communication Arts Magazine, and is also the illustrator of America the Beautiful, a Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Book of 2004. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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