A warm invitation to visitors wheeled or in boots: “Come on over, rovers!” (Informational picture book. 6-9)




Two unexpected pets, Spirit and Opportunity, perk up the bored, lonely fourth planet.

In the spirit of their Moon’s First Friends: How the Moon Met the Astronauts From Apollo 11 (2019), Hill and Paganelli send a lonely Mars to his father, the Sun, for a pet. Denied (Pluto is the whole family’s pet), the planet goes from one anthropomorphic solar sibling to another on a seemingly fruitless quest for companionship. This culminates in the violent and exciting arrival of two speedy “little spacecrafts” sent from Earth as a family gift. Fondly watching the puppylike rovers trundle about his orange surface collecting rocks, playing in a sandstorm, and snuggling together for the night, Mars both promises to make them a good home and looks forward to the arrival of future “pets.” Smiling faces on all the planets, moons, and rovers in view—which are otherwise rendered with reasonable accuracy—give the outing a cozy tone overall. Better yet, though the rovers’ missions get barely a nod in the main narrative, a substantial epilogue fills in the blanks with basic facts about the solar system in general and Mars in particular, plus profiles of NASA and the entire company of Mars rovers from 1997’s Sojourner to 2012’s still-active Curiosity (with a note about an unnamed, upcoming “new pet”).

A warm invitation to visitors wheeled or in boots: “Come on over, rovers!” (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0518-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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