A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Concepts of space travel, astronauts, life on other planets, terrain on planets.
If you have a dream, stick by it, even if others say you're crazy. If you lose your way, you can figure out how to get back on track. Life is an adventure, and you can enjoy it.
Positive Role Models
The little boy astronaut maintains a positive attitude. He believes he'll find life even though "[e]verybody thinks I'm crazy. Nobody believes there is life on Mars." He does temporarily lose faith when the planet appears lifeless and desolate, but he rises to the challenge when he loses his way and takes great pleasure in ultimately finding the flower.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Life on Mars by Jon Agee (It's Only Stanley) is a fun story about space travel and life on another planet. When a boy astronaut travels in his spaceship to prove there's life on Mars, he finds a flower but never sees the hulking martian who trails him. The martian looks something like a big, pudgy stuffed animal toy; he's more cuddly than scary, and his expressions are more curious than threatening. The book delivers messages about pursuing your dreams in the face of challenges, and it's all delivered with humor.
Is It Any Good?
There's heart and humor in this tale of a little kid astronaut who travels to Mars with the gift of a box of chocolate cupcakes and the big tubby martian he somehow never actually meets. Author-illustrator Jon Agee has a way with fun books for young kids, and though Life on Mars convincingly depicts a desolate Mars scape, it also manages to be sweet and funny. The boy astronaut tells the story, and his first-person voice is kid-like and appealing. Would it have been more adventurous if Agee had cast the little astronaut as someone other than a Caucasian boy? Yes, but the boy's face is sweetly expressive, making it easy for us to like him. The same goes for the big, huggable martian, who looks more shy than threatening and seems to also hope for a friend.
Kids love to feel in on the joke and will find it hysterically funny that they can see the martian looming in the background closely following the main character, while the boy himself remains clueless. The text is conversational and inviting, and there's much to search for in the art. This one should be a bedtime/story-time crowd pleaser.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.