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.