A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lion of Mars is a tween science-fiction adventure about the first people from Earth to colonize Mars in 2091. There's some sadness from two settlers dying, one in the past and one who was a grandfather-figure to the narrator. All the adult settlers come down with a mysterious, contagious, viral illness that causes hardship and worry but has a safe resolution. Tween narrator Bell sees teens kiss once, and adults kiss once. There's a rover-driving accident that causes a broken bone, and some scariness from a long, dark tunnel and green, glowing eyes. "Fart" is used a couple of times. A pet mouse has to be exterminated and is described as going right to sleep.
What's the story?
THE LION OF MARS is the story of 11-year-old Bell, the youngest kid in the American settlement on Mars in the year 2091. Keeping a new settlement going takes a lot of hard work, but there are chances for fun, too. Until all the adults in the settlement come down with a mysterious illness one by one. The kids try to keep things going as best they can, but the burden eventually becomes too much for them. Their only hope is to somehow make it to the nearest settlement from France and ask for help. But the Americans cut off communication with all other settlements because back on Earth, several of the countries are on the brink of war. If Bell can even make it to the French settlement, will they turn him away?
Is it any good?
Tween science fiction fans will enjoy this realistic-feeling adventure that has humor, warmth, and lots of food for thought about what it would be like to actually live on Mars. Veteran middle-grade author Jennifer L. Holm balances emotions, adventure, and the day-to-day in an engaging and sometimes funny way. Bell is a likable narrator for The Lion of Mars, and kids will easily relate to his feelings as he learns about community, friendship, weird teens, and what bravery really feels like. Other characters are well developed, and Holm creates a solid sense of place that readers will enjoy picturing in their minds. Overall the tone is gentle and heartwarming, ending on a feel-good note.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of community in The Lion of Mars. How does life improve for the American settlers once they start communicating with the other settlements? How does your community help you, and what can you do to help others in your community?
Do you think one day we'll send people to Mars? If you had the chance to go, do you think you'd want to? Why, or why not?
Why is science fiction so popular in books, movies, TV, and games? What do we love about it? What can it teach us about ourselves and our planet?
- Author: Jennifer L. Holm
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: STEM, Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Children's Books
- Publication date: January 5, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: January 5, 2021
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