There are many honors bestowed every year in the world of picture books, but few are as widely respected as being included in the the annual Kirkus "Best Children's Books" list. The newly released 2008 list includes a picture book I wish I had owned as a frequently relocated child, "There's Nothing to Do on Mars", written and illustrated by Chris Gall. To Chris we extend our many and sincere congratulations.
Chris Gall’s book tucks right into one of childhood’s bugbears—moving house. In this case, Davey’s family is off to Mars. You’d think that would be plenty distracting, but “I’m bored,” he complains after a day on the Red Planet. As Davey zips around on his space scooter trying to scare up some action, Gall catches the adventure in nostalgia-fueled engravings with flair. “Witty details abound,” according to Kirkus’s starred review, “from Davey’s home, which is an old Airstream trailer perched atop a giant rocket motor, to his pop-eyed robot dog, who tends to leak battery fluid when stressed. Taking the barb out of moving is the book’s genius. “When I decided to write a book about a boy moving to Mars, I wanted it to be a metaphor for the challenges all children face when moving to a strange new place,” says Gall. “After doing lots of research, I found myself confronting an unnerving possibility. There actually might be nothing to do on Mars. So my journey of discovery became Davey’s. “That discovery cures a lot of Martian body odor, sparks a plague of tourists and makes Davey’s parents itchy for Saturn, where, as Kirkus put it, “There probably won’t be much to do there, either, right?”
From the publisher, Little, Brown, and Company:
"There's Nothing to Do on Mars", written and illustrated by Chris Gall has been named a 2008 Kirkus Best Chidren's Book. It's the stirring tale of Davey, a boy from Kansas transplanted to the mysterious Red Planet. No trees to swing in, no fish to catch, just plain no fun to be had. But with the help of his faithful robot dog Polaris, Davey will discover a a whole new batch of fun… and a little bit more. Chris will be at the International Reading Association in Phoenix this February. If you're in the area, please drop by the show.