Author/Illustrator: Jon Agee
Age Group: 1-5
Synopsis: Searching for life on Mars could be less exciting than it seems but it can be easy to miss something in front of your nose.
The Low Down:
The lure of the unknown is always potent. Something especially spectacular seems to draw the mind to Mars, as evident with the countless books and movies that seem to revolve around the red planet. We were ensnared recently with Life on Mars, with sweet and amusing story with simple and striking illustrations.
The initial page shows a rocket shooting towards what Bug always assumes is the Moon. However, when the astronaut appears he tells the reader he’s on Mars looking for life. As he searches, his hopes seem to fade and at one point he ditches his gift of cupcakes in despair. Unbeknownst to our intrepid explorer, he’s being followed by an alien who seems curious about this newcomer. Finally as he turns back, the astronaut discovers a flower and is thrilled to finally discover life. He also finds his previously discarded cupcake box. He leaves Mars with the two items, still unaware of the large creature that shadowed him all the while. It’s only when he’s rocketing off and finds that the cupcake box is empty, that he’s taken by surprise.
Agee does a fabulous job of making his illustrations pop off the pages. Paired with the constantly black background of space, his rocket ships and even Martian landscape create an ever more interesting story. His alien character is absolutely perfect in that he is obviously of an unknown origin but not scary. Bug loves to laugh at the alien’s antics and the little boys obliviousness to the entire situation. Drawn simply, these characters pop with their features and obvious emotions. The final page with empty cupcakes and the little boy’s shocked face is simply, giggle-inducing.
Although Bug now pretends to rocketship to and from the grocery store, we’re not completely space obsessed. However, that’s not really a necessity to enjoy Agee’s work. We always love a silly story that mirrors children’s emotions. And how can we not love brilliant illustrations that keep us turning the page and laughing all the way? All of these parts help add to the story and silly sort of humor that makes this book rise one step above and become an instant hit.
- The story is simple enough that even pre-readers can help out with this book. Allow them to flex their story telling abilities and encourage efforts with appropriately silly noises.
- A celebratory cupcake never goes amiss after reading such a great book.
I need more!
While Life on Mars is Jon Agee’s most recent release he has tons of other books that he’s either illustrated or written and illustrated. Most recently, check out: Lion Lessons, It’s Only Stanley, or Little Santa. And for more information go to: http://www.jonagee.com
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