Left to wander on Mars after mission’s end, the lonely Curiosity rover makes some bizarre friends.
“Mission Control, don’t leave me here! There’s more to do….Hello?...Can you hear me?” Poor Curiosity, abandoned, has nothing to do but continue rolling over the sere landscape. Until, that is, he (explicitly gendered) falls into a crevasse, lands on a soft pile of leaves (!) and at last does find life on Mars—namely Sputnik (“Beeeeeep! Beeeep!”) and Laika the space dog (“Rufff! Ruff!”). Even readers obliging enough to roll with the story’s surreal elements (and unfamiliar with the real Laika’s ugly fate) will be left spinning their wheels by the garishly colored cartoon art. The rover, looking like a tearful mechanical turtle with clinical depression, may draw sympathy, but Sputnik resembles a spider with heavy, retro-style eyeglasses, and Laika is portrayed as a slobbery pooch in a space helmet with big, creepy, staring eyes. In the last scene, dog and satellite are seen playing Twister as their new playmate contentedly sits by, letting his radio batteries run down.
Ghastly. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-7)