An inventively designed board book introduces the solar system to the youngest learners.
“Our solar system has eight planets,” begins the book, which presents stock photos of the sun and each planet in turn, with a fact or two about each. With the turn of the page, readers see the sun at the center of the double-page spread, the edge of the recto rounded at the leading edge of the sun’s surface. Each subsequent recto is similarly shaped, with an extra bulge where each planet’s photo is printed, and extends a little further out, creating an overlapping effect that evokes the planets’ orbits. It looks impressive, but in execution it falls short in clarity, since the facts associated with each body are printed on the other side of the page. Readers see that the “Sun is a giant ball of hot gas” opposite the photo of and label for Mercury. The planets’ photos are printed on both sides, but their relative sizes can cause confusion. “The rocks on the surface of Mars look red,” reads the text next to the diminutive picture of Mars, but the spread is dominated by Jupiter, also reddish, on the right. The facts presented vary in developmental appropriateness; will the board-book audience really understand such statements as “Gas giant planets do not have a solid surface”?
Flashy but ultimately poorly conceived. (Informational board book. 3-5)