A first-person journey to Mars, to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell,” with additional space exploration facts.Through text that reads to the tune of the familiar children’s song, readers join four children—all of different skin tone and hair color—as they climb aboard a rocket headed for Mars. Each verse introduces new astronautic concepts and vocabulary, from the “launch” on Earth to the exploration of Mars. Readers become crew members and take part in life on the spacecraft: “I squirt myself clean”; “We sleep on the walls”; “Our greens grow in bags”; “Cycling keeps us strong.” As the children enter zero gravity and float around the page, so do the words, often requiring readers to turn the book. Lendroth includes second-person point-of-view paragraphs set in smaller type that delve deeper into astronautic facts, inviting readers’ interaction and preparing them for an exciting trip into space. Kolar’s detailed yet cheerful illustrations, done in his familiar, matte, graphically bold style, encourage an engaging and positive outlook on being an astronaut. Overall, the words flow well with the tune and, together with the often-upside-down illustrations, create the perspective of being in space. An amusing sing-along read-aloud to introduce space exploration and astronautics.
This picture book about a diverse team of kids traveling in a rocket ship to Mars has arresting illustrations and a wealth of information. Its subtitle bills it as “a space-age version of ‘The Farmer in the Dell’,” and the main text follows the old rhyme’s pattern and cadence, albeit awkwardly at times. For example, a spread devoted to bathing in space proclaims, “I squirt myself clean.” This makes reading aloud a particular challenge, as does a zero-gravity-inspired layout that requires the book to be regularly rotated. And a burned question posed by the kids —“How long till we get there?”—isn’t answered until the ending information page. What does come through are fascinating details about the stages of a journey to Mars, from launch through arrival and exploration, and what life is like on a rocket ship, all provided in bite-size, factual blurbs scattered throughout. The digital illustrations are gasp-inducing, and the contrast between the four children and the immensity of space is done beautifully. For space enthusiasts. —Booklist