life on marsOur book today is the latest whimsical masterpiece from the great childrens book writer and illustrator Jon Agee: Life on Mars.

The story begins with an intrepid young space explorer arriving on the planet Mars. He leaves his spaceship on a very definite mission, and it’s not just to find life on Mars. It’s also to salvage his own reputation back home on Earth:

Everybody thinks I’m crazy.

Nobody believes there’s life on Mars.

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

He’s come prepared: he not only has his trusty space suit, but he’s also brought along a box of chocolate cupcakes to present to the Martians he’s certain he’ll find. But lifeon mars2the more walking around he does, the more frustrated he becomes: all he sees are rocks and barren wasteland! No Martians!

Thanks to Agee’s playful artwork, we share his frustration – because our space explorer always seems to be looking in just the wrong direction to spot the gigantic Martian who’s watching him in clear befuddlement! Even after our little explorer has temporarily misplaced his spaceship and climbed a hill to get a better vantage point to look for it, he fails to realize that the hill is in fact the ample backside of the Martian.

lifeonmrs3The mission is a failure, and the explorer is headed back home. But just near his spaceship he finds what he’s been looking for: life! A lone green plant is poking up from the hard Martian soil! The little boy proudly takes the plant onboard his ship, overjoyed that he’ll be able to tell the folks back on Earth that there really is life on Mars. The goofy-looking Martian watches his strange visitor leave without making a sound.

Agee is a master of creating these adorable parables of gentle confusion, and Life on Mars is his simplest and most effective to date. I loved it, and I think I know the perfect little recipient.

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