Review of Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars
by Richard Ho; illus. by Katherine Roy
Primary, Intermediate    Roaring Brook    40 pp.
10/19    978-1-250-19833-4    $18.99

Debut author Ho and experienced illustrator Roy (Neighborhood Sharks, rev. 11/14; Otis and Will Discover the Deep, rev. 3/18) deliver an informative and surprisingly tender portrayal of Curiosity, the most recent NASA rover to explore Mars. Poetic and personified text labels the rover as “curious,” “thirsty,” and even “lonely”; however, readers are assured that “it is not alone. It has friends that came before.” In fact, after an overview of Curiosity’s roving abilities (“It observes. Measures. Collects”), a series of brilliantly sequenced panels pays homage to six robotic “friends” (Mariner 9, Viking 1, Mars Pathfinder, Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity) that previously explored the red planet. A dramatic run-in with a massive, swirling dust storm leaves Curiosity blanketed in dust, which dissipates with the opening of an impressive panoramic gatefold of the Martian landscape, boldly plastered with the word “RED.” Roy’s painterly illustrations are both scientifically accurate and emotive, often framing Curiosity as if for a portrait and subtly conveying human-like gestures—such as a slight tip of the rover’s head-like camera system toward the impending arrival of a new rover friend (foreshadowing NASA’s upcoming planned launch in 2020). A last-minute reveal of the book’s narrator is a sweet surprise that only enhances the appeal of this thoughtful, evocative, and impeccably illustrated space book. Back matter includes a well-labeled, detailed diagram of the rover; Mars facts; additional information about Curiosity and “friends”; a bibliography; and related websites.

From the November/December 2019 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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