Veteran author Roman (Being a Captain Is Hard Work, 2016, etc.) sends readers on a rhyming voyage through the Milky Way, accompanied by Arkova’s whimsical illustrations.
A pair of unnamed siblings ride on a rocket ship from Earth toward the moon and beyond. They rise up, away from the planet, and the cities and mountains shrink below as they head into the Milky Way. Roman’s words paint as vibrant a picture as Arkova’s gorgeous swirls of pinks and blues: “We love the constellations, / the way they fill the skies. // The crazy quilt of a universe / is spread before our eyes.” Flying through the solar system, passing Mercury, Venus, and Mars, the siblings dance atop their rocket among the constellations (including Drakko and Leo) and the bright stars (Polaris, Castor, Rigel). Then it’s back to the planets, including a very stylized, blue-tinted Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and poor, demoted Pluto, whose status as a dwarf planet isn’t mentioned. After a final zoom through the galaxy, the two children go home to their shared bedroom, where they have model planets suspended from the ceiling, star-painted walls, and a toy rocket ship between their beds. The book’s poetry scans well and rolls off the tongue without too much stumbling; the rhythm shifts now and then, but after one read-through, adults should be able to adjust their performance for lap readers without losing the beat. Some unique word selections will help children increase their vocabularies (“ponder,” “romp,” “glimpse”). Although this may increase the challenge for independent readers, younger ones will enjoy poring over the illustrations while their parents read aloud. The two siblings are wonderfully gender-ambiguous, so readers can imagine themselves as either the older, dark-haired sibling or the younger, blond child without hindrance. Arkova portrays several constellations with high accuracy but also depicts UFOs and aliens as extra details to add to the images’ dreamlike nature. The illustration and comforting language at the end of the book should have lap readers ready to head to their own rocket beds to drift off to sleep.
A read-aloud lullaby with dreamy pictures, perfect for sending budding astronauts to slumber.