The latest and greatest of the Mars rovers tells its tale and explains its purpose.
Fans of the eponymous robot star of the film WALL-E will see a kindred spirit in this chronicle’s narrator as it wheels its lonely way over dimly lit Martian barrens, glassy camera-eye held jauntily above its buggy-shaped chassis. Emphasizing flat, geometric shapes to give his big scenes a retro look, Motum begins with stylized views of the red planet, then briefly summarizes Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon’s surface before showing Curiosity under construction, then in schematic fashion depicts each stage of the rover’s launch, long voyage, and final descent. “Touchdown confirmed. We’re safe on Mars!” (An actual quote, though from a NASA official, not the fictive narrator.) The oversized trim accommodates sweeping views of space, panoramas of both the control room and Mars, and a 90-degree turn to dramatize liftoff. The narrative proceeds in a methodical, matter-of-fact way to lay out details of the rover’s design and assembly—by, in the art at least, a carefully diverse crew of NASA workers—along with its space journey and what it has been up to since its 2012 landing. Suggesting that its findings are likely to provide as many questions as answers, Curiosity concludes with the thought that its wheel tracks may one day be joined by footprints. Here’s hoping.
The personification adds an appealing angle to this venturesome visit to Earth’s closest planetary neighbor. (timeline, glossary, note on other Mars rovers) (Informational picture book. 7-10)