3 science fiction picture books

Most of the books I buy at full-price are picture books.  That’s not a complaint, by the way.  I’m very happy to supply so many classics (and new favorites) to my friends’ kid lit libraries, and to support my local bookstores in doing so.  This past weekend I discovered a couple of new-to-me space-themed books while perusing the kids’ section of a couple of stores, and I thought I’d post mini-reviews of them here on the blog. I don’t think you can start a love of science fiction (or just plain science!) too young.

interstellar cinderella by deborah underwood, illustrated by meg hunt book coverOnce upon a planetoid,
amid her tools and sprockets,
a girl named Cinderella dreamed
of fixing fancy rockets.

With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the ballbut when the prince's ship has mechanical trouble, someone will have to zoom to the rescue! Readers will thank their lucky stars for this irrepressible fairy tale retelling, its independent heroine, and its stellar happy ending.

Deborah Underwood’s Interstellar Cinderella is a futuristic re-telling of the traditional fairy tale in verse, accompanied by Meg Hunt’s colorful illustrations.  In this version of the story, Cinderella has pink hair and a penchant for mechanics.  In fact, she ends up proving her worth by fixing a broken spaceship (instead of fitting into a glass slipper).  The poem is fun and funny throughout, and character diversity is always a plus.  Hunt includes a lot of visual interest on every page, which could be a little confusing to the eye the first time, but fantastic for rereads.  I picked the book up for the hologram/metallic lettering on the cover, but my favorite illustrations ended up being the end papers, which featured Cinderella’s various tools, labeled inventively.  This is a great modern take on a popular princess tale, and one I’d suggest to anyone looking for an alternative or companion to the Disney classic. It’s sure to be a bedtime favorite for little girls (and their parents).  

zathura by chris van allsburg book coverOn the last page of the Caldecott-winning book Jumanji, young Danny Budwing is seen running after his brother, Walter, with a game tucked under his arm. Now after twenty years, Chris Van Allsburg is ready to reveal what happens when Danny and Walter roll the dice. This time the name of the game is Zathura and the battling Budwing boys are in for the ride of their lives.

Zathura unleashes intergalactic challenges that require even the quarreling Budwing brothers to work as a team.

Chris Van Allsburg’s Zathura is an older title, but it is definitely a classic (as are almost all of Van Allsburg’s titles – this is the author behind Jumanji and The Polar Express, after all!).  I was familiar with the title because I’ve seen the film based on this book starring a young Josh Hutcherson and Kristen Stewart.  The story is quite a bit like Jumanji, actually – a pair of brothers find an old game about space, begin to play it, and discover that the game alters reality.  Sci-fi elements include space travel, robots, aliens, and time travel.  Van Allsburg’s black and white ink drawings illustrate the adventure in beautiful detail.  My favorite bit is that the brothers go from antagonizing one another to working together and valuing each other, though things get iffy once or twice.  Zathura will please the older end of the picture book crowd as well as the littlies (and it would be a great gift to accompany the film!).

your alien by tammi sauer, illustrated by goro fujita book cover
One day, you'll be looking out your window when something wonderful comes your way...and you will want to keep him.

When a little boy meets a stranded alien child, the two instantly strike up a fabulous friendship. They go to school, explore the neighborhood, and have lots of fun. But at bedtime, the alien suddenly grows very, very sad. Can the boy figure out what his new buddy needs most of all? This funny, heartwarming story proves that friends and family are the most important things in the universe…no matter who or where you are.

Tammi Sauer’s Your Alien is a story written in the second person, featuring the adventures of a boy who finds an alien one night, adopts it and takes it everywhere, even to school.  In the end, the alien gets lonely, and the boy must find a way to make things right.  The story has strong themes of familial love and the comfort of a hug (for all).  It’s very funny in parts, and just short enough that the second person narration didn’t lose its effectiveness.  Goro Fujita’s illustrations are vibrant and both complement and elevate the text.  They have a little bit of a film magic quality to them, so young ones will be reminded of their favorite movies featuring creatures from outer space. Your Alien is perfect bedtime reading, especially for the 3-6 year old set and anyone who enjoyed E.T. as a kid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Van Allsburg fan so I was of course excited to see you talking about Zathura. Your Alien and Interstellar Cinderella are new to me and they sound fantastic. I'm going to go and make sure my library system has copies right now.

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