Review of Pluto Gets the Call

Pluto Gets the Call
by Adam Rex; illus. by Laurie Keller
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.
11/19    978-1-5344-1453-2    $17.99
e-book ed.   978-1-5344-1454-9    $10.99

Rex and Keller dramatize Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet status in this smart and playful offering of informational comedy. Rex’s wry and engaging text is told completely through dialogue among Pluto, the planets, and other celestial bodies; Keller’s kinetic mixed-media illustrations include “a bunch of sideline planetary commentary.” After receiving “the call” from Earth scientists, a dejected Pluto reluctantly acquiesces to giving a tour of the solar system, since readers “were probably hoping to hang out with a real planet.” The remaining eight planets, each with a unique personality and (randomly chosen) gender, are introduced to readers through interesting facts (“If you tried to stand on Jupiter, you’d just fall right through him”) and funnily informative jokes (“Neptune is pretty icy. And gassy. I’m not being mean, he just is”). The visually jam-packed pages range from complex panel layouts set against solid white backgrounds to luminous double-page spreads of the immense, maternal Sun. A genuinely moving testimonial by the benevolent Sun extolling the value of Pluto’s new role (“You’re the planet who doesn’t get to be a planet anymore. And people love you for it”) beautifully wraps up this expertly crafted ode to Pluto, science, and underdogs everywhere. Back matter consists of solar-system facts and an author’s note.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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