A book that will expand readers’ horizons with its scientific foray into the solar system.

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IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED ON...MARS

From the If You Were Me and Lived in... series

Roman and Arkova’s (Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?, 2017, etc.) picture book imagines what life might be like for the first colonists on Mars.

This science-based look at what could possibly occur in the not-too-distant future is something of a departure for the author, whose prolific output of “If You Were Me and Lived in…” books has focused on the past and present. Roman uses a similar framework here, inviting readers to put themselves in the spacesuit and boots of a 10-year-old who’s traveled to the red planet as part of a three-year colonization expedition. Over the course of the story, Roman imparts Mars facts—about its terrain, its atmosphere (or lack thereof), the length of its days and years in comparison to Earth’s, how the names of its two moons came to be, what humans will need to live there, and more. This easily digestible, signature mix of textbook fact and Roman’s relatable, conversational style provides readers with an engaging way into the subject of space exploration, which is only deepened by a back-of-book pronunciation guide and glossary of terms. Roman might consider, however, adding a resource list to future editions for those young people who might be interested in further study on their own. The visual design of the book, while not striking, is comfortably polished, with glossy covers and clear, mostly white text incorporated into full-page illustrations. Artist Arkova, Roman’s frequent collaborator, suggests the Martian landscape in watercolor-style hues of rusty reds and blues, with touches of green and yellow in the colonists’ habitat. She adds a touch of whimsy with the addition of a frolicsome dog, dressed in a helmet and tail-accommodating spacesuit.

A book that will expand readers’ horizons with its scientific foray into the solar system.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5408-6972-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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A visual success conjuring up the best about the seasons’ changes.

GOODBYE SUMMER, HELLO AUTUMN

As a child walks through woods and town, summer turns to fall, and the natural world is met with a friendly hello.

A slim, brown child with a black-haired bob and hipster clothes stands on a stoop, ready to greet the late summer morning. On this picturesque journey through the seasons, the protagonist’s cordial salutation—whether made to blue jays and beavers or to the thunder and wind—is always the same: “Hello, [object].” And all amiably respond, providing tidbits of information about themselves. Unfortunately, their chatty replies miss the rhythm and easy conversational style that would make this shine as a read-aloud. It’s a shame, since the artist’s lush, evocative digital illustrations so perfectly capture the changing seasons in both the countryside and the town’s streets. To further accentuate the subject matter, Pak makes every spread a panorama, allowing readers to see and feel the various environments and habitats. Working in the tradition of such artists as Richard Scarry and Mary Blair, he takes a graphic approach, illustrating a world with simplified characters and shapes, layers of textures, and bold colors. Repeat visits will reveal new stories, such as the child’s collection and distribution of a carefully crafted bouquet to other people, whose diversity refreshingly reflects a range of skin tones, hairstyles, body types, and interests.

A visual success conjuring up the best about the seasons’ changes. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-415-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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