You Are the First Kid on Mars


As we look back to the beginnings of the space race, 2009 is also the year for looking forward to humankind's next step toward the stars.

In the spirit of books that once imagined colonies on the moon, Patrick O'Brien has created a unique look at your first trip to Mars. Using the most upto- date designs and theories of what it will take to establish a base on Mars, you are off on an incredible journey, over 35 million miles to the red planet. Filled with details, and vividly ...

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As we look back to the beginnings of the space race, 2009 is also the year for looking forward to humankind's next step toward the stars.

In the spirit of books that once imagined colonies on the moon, Patrick O'Brien has created a unique look at your first trip to Mars. Using the most upto- date designs and theories of what it will take to establish a base on Mars, you are off on an incredible journey, over 35 million miles to the red planet. Filled with details, and vividly brought to life, this is an adventure that you are never going to forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

O'Brien (Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery) takes an inventive leap into the future, bringing readers on a journey to Mars. Made captivatingly real by stunning, photographlike digital art, the adventure begins as a child boards an "elevator car" that ascends along cables to reach an elaborate space station. A "Nuclear Thermal Rocket" docked there then embarks on a four-month journey to a space station orbiting Mars, from which a "lander" ship delivers the crew and young passenger to the planet's surface. The thrilled kid finally gets to explore the planet ("Gravity on Mars is less than half as strong as on Earth, so you take big, bouncing steps"), making his way to a habitat that houses scientists. O'Brien generates dramatic graphic particulars: sophisticated robotic machines perform various tasks and a sleek "MarsPlane" flies over the breathtaking Valles Marineris canyon. Though the second-person narrative makes the action feel immediate, when coupled with O'Brien's depiction of the protagonist as a Caucasian boy, it may leave non-white, non-male readers unable to connect. Still, this intriguing vision of space exploration should set imaginations soaring. Ages 5-up. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
. . . it's easy to . . . get lost imagining oneself exploring the pristinely serene scenery of the Red Planet. Until such a thing is possible, this is as close as a child will get-and even in this guise, it's a pretty neat experience., starred review
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
There is plenty of talk about going to Mars in certain scientific circles; and just what would that experience be like? O'Brien describes the experience and imparts of bit of factual information. Our young astronaut rides a space elevator that is connected to a space station where scientists and others then take a rocket to Mars. It is a long trip—about four months—but you have a sleeping cabin, exercise room, library, bathroom, kitchen and gravity so it is more like home but much smaller. Once near Mars you board a Lander and when you arrive on the planet you must wear a spacesuit. The atmosphere of Mars is thin and people would not be able to breathe without protective suits; plus the temperatures are very cold and very hot. Scientists are hard at work studying the planet, growing food, examining rocks, searching for signs of life and much more. Robots do the dangerous work, especially things that require them to be outside on the planet's surface. On one of your excursions you find Sojourner, the first Mars rover. The pictures O'Brien has created look like photographs—you see the landscape, the tallest mountains on any planet and a huge canyon that extends for hundreds of miles. After six months it is time to return home. What a trip and what a painless way to impart lots of factual information about the very first planet mankind might visit. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6–What would it be like to travel to Mars, explore the red planet, and return to Earth? O’Brien has created a realistic account of such a journey with informative text and polished digital art that sparks the imagination. Adults take a backseat in this adventure, as the narrator speaks directly to readers about what they could expect to see and do. Rich illustrations depict a young boy as the traveler, space vehicles, and rusty red landscapes with depth and detail. Following a four-month trip on a Nuclear Thermal Rocket, the boy joins scientists, engineers, and pilots living in a habitat on Mars complete with a greenhouse. As for finding life on Mars, it is explained that microscopic organisms are more likely than little green men. But who needs aliens when you have robots watering the plants and roving the surface? Additional facts are listed at the end of the book.–Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Pairing a present-tense text to photorealistic digital paintings, O'Brien invites readers to take an entirely credible journey to Mars. The second-person trip begins with a young, white, apparently male tourist's near-future ride up the space elevator to a space station, followed by a rocket flight to the Mars orbital base and then a quick descent to the small colony complex on the surface. After observing scientists at work, outings in a wheeled vehicle and the MarsPlane not only take "you" past the old Sojourner rover but also provide glimpses of Olympus Mons and the immense Valles Marineris. Six months later, it's back to Earth: "You have gone where no kid has gone before." The gear and human figures look as real as the settings, and though the author's repeated claim that Mars is the closest planet is a debatable one, so strong is the sense of verisimilitude that children may be surprised to learn that they can't (yet!) make the trip themselves. (Mars facts) (Speculative nonfiction. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399246340
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 5/14/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 709,970
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

After earning a degree in biology from the University of Virginia in 1982, Patrick O’Brien went to art school at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1986, he became a freelance illustrator working for clients such as National Geographic, Newsweek magazine, The Discovery Channel, The Smithsonian, and The American Museum of Natural History. His artwork has appeared in magazines and newspapers, on posters, videocassette boxes, and greeting cards, and even on billboards.

In addition to his accomplishments in the marine art field, O’Brien has written and illustrated eleven nonfiction books for children. His previous books have been about historic and prehistoric subjects ranging from giant dinosaurs and ancient sharks to knights in armor and pirates on the high seas. In May 2009, G.P. Putnam’s Sons published his most recent picture book which takes a fascinating look into the future. O’Brien modeled You Are the First Kid on Mars off his earliest memories of gathering around the television with his family on vacation at the beach to watch the first man land on the moon.

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