National Poetry Month Kid Lit Review of “Comets, Stars, The Moon, and Mars” by Douglas Florian

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Douglas Florian is a poet and painter who has created a number of books for children, but this one is my favorite. This charming and humorous collection of poems about space is the perfect way to teach children in the course of entertaining them.

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He takes us through our own solar system, with a double-page spread for each planet:

“The Earth
Two-thirds water.
One-third land.
Valleys deep.
Mountains grand.
Sky of blue.
Clouds of gray.
Life here, too –
Think I’ll stay.”

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Pluto is included, but never fear: this book is up-to-date!

“Pluto was a planet.
But now it doesn’t pass.
Pluto was a planet.
They say it’s lacking mass.
Pluto was a planet.
Pluto was admired.
Pluto was a planet.
Till one day it got fired.”

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The mixed-media illustrations are beautiful: they are done with gouache, collage, and even rubber stamps on primed brown paper bags. There are scraps of star maps and pieces of photographs and die-cut peep holes allowing for a telescopic view from one page to the next. His clever technique creates a result that is evocative and “otherworldly” and will inspire kids to find out more about the symbolism and references in the pictures.

The entry for Venus, for example, shows a statue of Venus along with her names in various cultures: Diane, Aphrodite, Sappho, and so on. Humorously, the author comments:

“Scalding-hot surface,
Nine hundred degrees.
Nothing can live there,
No creatures,
No trees.
Poisonous clouds
Of acid above.
Why was it named for
the goddess of love?”

The book ends with another humorous poem about the “space” in the great beyond (about which he would tell you more, he writes, but he has “run out of space.)

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End matter includes a galactic glossary and a selected bibliography for further reading.

Evaluation: Oh how I wish I had a book this beautiful and fun when I was young to learn about the stars and planets!

Rating: 5/5

Published by Harcourt, Inc., a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007

Douglas Florian includes a "self-portrait" on the book jacket

Douglas Florian includes a “self-portrait” on the book jacket

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5 Responses to National Poetry Month Kid Lit Review of “Comets, Stars, The Moon, and Mars” by Douglas Florian

  1. Beth F says:

    Oh wow. I love this!! Poor Pluto — and that poem sums up its fate perfectly.

  2. sagustocox says:

    Pluto was my favorite planet when I was a kid. That poem is awesome. What a great book.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    This looks extra special! Great poems and beautiful illustrations.

  4. Vicki says:

    I love the poems and illustrations! I think my grandson would love this book!

  5. Wonderful way to learn about planet and stars! I want it!! NOW!

    Here is my contribution for the National Poetry Month Tour

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