Life on Mars
Life on Mars
Jon Agee, USA: Scallywag Press, hb, 978 1 9126 5007 1, 2019, £12.99, 32pp.
Picture book, fiction, 4-7 years
Written in the first person, the antagonist travels from earth to Mars to find ‘life’. Everyone says there is no life on Mars but is there?
Whilst the little space boy roams around Mars looking for life, life just evades him, always one step behind or not quite where he looks even when that life is only twenty or so steps behind! Having wondered just a little too far the little boy becomes lost, losing his chocolate treat and spaceship too. Yet in doing so, he does find life, but not in the form imagined, even climbing over the real life form he seeks whilst trying to locate the lost spaceship. The twist at the end of the story makes the little hero realise that maybe, just maybe, if he had looked just a little harder, he might have found the very thing he were looking for and in fact perhaps he was right all the time. Life perhaps does exist on Mars!
This story is beautifully illustrated in muted tones and a limited palette showing Mars to be slightly different from the hot, blazing planet that it is often perceived to be. Whilst the little boy finds life in one sense but not in another, the story encourages and challenges the notion of opening our eyes and seeing the world around us rather than just accepting what we think is there. The fact that ‘life’ enables the little boy to get home without being identified also poses the question that maybe he doesn’t want to be found, amongst other possibilities.
This is a wonderful book to use with school children studying the planets and solar system and leaves the reader asking as many questions as the one it seeks answers to!
Review by Karenanne Knight