Move to another planet? Sounds interesting! In our imaginary spaceship, let's check out the planets in our solar system. Mercury is closest, but it has no air, and it's either sizzling hot or bitterly cold. The atmosphere on Venus is poisonous; plus, human beings would cook there. Mars might work, but you'd always have to be in a protective shelter. And if you got to the outer planets, you couldn't even land as they are mostly made of gas! Our home planet is looking good. Why is Earth so comfortable for plants, ...
Move to another planet? Sounds interesting! In our imaginary spaceship, let's check out the planets in our solar system. Mercury is closest, but it has no air, and it's either sizzling hot or bitterly cold. The atmosphere on Venus is poisonous; plus, human beings would cook there. Mars might work, but you'd always have to be in a protective shelter. And if you got to the outer planets, you couldn't even land as they are mostly made of gas! Our home planet is looking good. Why is Earth so comfortable for plants, animals, and people? As Robert E. Wells explains, it's because of our just-right position form the sun, marvelous atmosphere, and abundant water. Our planet is very special and perfect for us, and that's why we must do all we can to keep Earth healthy.
With the recent discovery of Gliese 581, a planet that may be able to support life, this excellent book arrives at a great time, and is sure to be a favorite in any beginning science classroom. The author takes an easy, conversational approach to his topic, addressing the reader directly. Wells first points out that Earth's weather can sometimes be rather uncomfortable, and wonders if any of the other seven planets might be a better place to live (yes, Pluto is no longer considered a planet). He then takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of our solar system, providing enough information for young minds to grasp and understand without overwhelming them. The author makes the information personal, too. For example, he succinctly describes the hot surface temperature of Venus by exclaiming, "Get out fast, before you're cooked!" At the end of the book, he returns to the subject of Earth, and explains why conditions on Earth favor life, and some things that we can do to help our planet, such as cutting down on pollution and promoting efficient energy. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and in some cases resemble comic book panels. In an age when so many beginning science books are either boring, overwhelming, or detached from daily life, this one stands out as a welcome exception. Scientifically accurate, witty, and humorous, this is a great book to give to young students, or even adults who want a concise explanation of our solar system. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Wells's signature style is exhibited in his cartoon illustrations and conversational text. Readers follow two boys and their dog as they are taken from Earth on a trip to the other seven planets in a spacecraft that's fast enough to give a quick tour. At each stop the narrator explains why humans could not live there. The characters are promptly returned to Earth, and the book explains why it's the only planet that is just right for humans. Each page is filled with acrylic-and-pen illustrations and plenty of text but the title is not as overwhelming as it may first appear. Useful as an introduction to planet research, the book will work as a read-aloud or for independent reading.—Sandra Welzenbach, Villarreal Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
Wells explores the characteristics that make Earth capable of sustaining life. Beginning with an imaginary journey through the solar system, a boy and a girl visit the other seven planets and see firsthand why they are uninhabitable, learning some facts about each along the way. Earth is special because of its distance from the sun, atmosphere and water. The final few pages discuss ways that humans have not always taken care of these valuable resources and how they can be conserved. While the overall text has an offhand, casual manner, the backmatter includes several paragraphs that will get readers to think more deeply about some of the subjects raised, such as the planets' differing orbits and the possibility of finding another planet like ours somewhere in the universe. The pen-and-acrylic illustrations suit the informal tone of the text and feature a cartoon boy and girl being piloted around the solar system by a monkey. Those toward the back get more serious as they promote a conservation message. A good beginning look at the special features that make Earth our home. (Informational picture book. 5-9)