The Picture Book Buzz

Life On Mars - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

March 17, 2017

Killing time in my bookstore, the children's department manager hurried over, grinning broadly, and asked if I had seen this book. I fell in love with it immediately. It reminded me of the cartoons created when NASA sent the Rover to Mars.  As the rover scanned the planet, Martians hiding behind a fake landscape tried to ensure NASA saw a barren, lifeless planet.


What happens when a child goes to Mars to find life?









Life on Mars 


Author & Illustrator: Jon Agee


Publisher: Dial Books (2017)


Ages:  4 - 8





Adventure, mystery, space exploration, humor and irony


Synopsis (From Barnes & Noble):

In this sneaky, silly picture book for fans of Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen, an intrepid—but not so clever—space explorer is certain he’s found the only living thing on Mars
A young astronaut is absolutely sure there is life to be found on Mars. He sets off on a solitary mission, determined to prove the naysayers wrong. But when he arrives, equipped with a package of cupcakes as a gift, he sees nothing but a nearly barren planet. Finally, he spies a single flower and packs it away to take back to Earth as proof that there is indeed life on Mars. But as he settles in for the journey home, he cracks open his cupcakes—only to discover that someone has eaten them all!
Readers will love being in on the secret: Unbeknownst to the explorer, a Martian has been wandering through the illustrations the whole time—and he got himself a delicious snack along the way.


Opening Lines:

I am on Mars.

I have traveled a long way from Earth.

I am here to find life.

Everybody thinks I am crazy. Nobody believes there is life on Mars.

But I do. And I just know that I'm going to find it.


Why I like this book:

Agee masterfully uses illustrations to enhance the humor, by having  the Martian mimic the child's action and facial expressions. The reader is in on the joke, as the "monster" peacefully follows and even helps the main character, who remains oblivious until the end.




The dark, muted colors do an excellent job of portraying a harsh, empty, barren Martian landscape. Importantly, the joke continues clear to the wordless ending spread. Wonderful book for a read-aloud, as it will likely result in lots of shouted responses. Agee perfectly captures the quintessential kid humor. Its leveled vocabulary will make this a favorite with emergent readers. 


Related Activities:

- draw or create your image of what might live on Mars. 

-  make a paper bag alien or space person puppet. 

- make a rocket ship model

-  rocketry lesson plans from NASA (grades k-5)


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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