Marianne J. Dyson

Review of Earth to Stella

Reviewed by: Marianne Dyson, June 17, 2006

Who wants to go to bed when there is a universe to explore? Not little Stella. While getting ready for bed, Stella dons her space suit pajamas and blasts off to bounce on the Moon. When her father orders, "Earth to Stella: No jumping on the bed!" she heads into deep space. She likes the red stars best. She explores an extrasolar planet and discovers tiny bug aliens. When she calls to report her discovery to Earth, no one answers. She returns to Earth and finds her father snoring in the living room. The "earthling" wakes up, and agrees to join her on a new bedtime space adventure.

Earth to Stella captures the pure joy and excitement of exploring space and making new discoveries. The dialog between father and daughter such as "Earth to Stella: Please settle down now!" and "Stella to Earth: I am setting down...Now!" is humorous and fits with the space theme. The text includes the girl needing to wear special clothes for her journey, donning a space helmet, and doing a countdown that leads to a noisy launch. The low gravity of the Moon is "shown" simply as the Moon being "very good for bouncing." The connection with being tucked into bed and stars is not obvious until later in the book when we see Stella's "stellar" bedspread. The fact that stars are different colors is a great thing to introduce to young minds.

The only inaccuracy found in the text is the description of a comet "trailing a long, fiery tail." The tails of comets do not trail behind them, and they do not contain any fire. They always point away from the star, and the tail is made of dust and gas. After a comet has swung around the Sun for example, its "tail" is actually in front of it.

The exploration of the new planet is set purely in the girl's imagination and includes the discovery of friendly blue bugs. Considering she was in bed in reality, I hope this didn't mean she encountered bed bugs in her room!

The illustrations in this book are as imaginative as the story. Adults will enjoy discovering new details with each reading such as the titles of books on the shelf and the one in Dad's lap. The chicken spaceship is adorably cute. The Moon has a green cheesy look to it, and the Earth is the globe we see earlier on the girl's shelf.

I give this book a half point for consistency with real facts (because of the comet tail), 1 point for the excellent illustrations, 1 point for a new perspective on the old bedtime ritual, 1 point for the funny dialog and cute phrasing, 1 point for the use of space in the plot, and 1 point for the great father-daughter character team. Total: 5.5 points. Rating: Highly Recommended. Earth to Stella is a beautifully illustrated creative bedtime story that will send children and their parents on a joyful exploration of the future.

Title: Earth to Stella!
Author: Simon Puttock
Illustrator: Philip Hopman
Ages: 0-7
Number of Pages: 32
Format: hardback
Publisher: Clarion
Date: 2006 (OP 2016)
Retail Price: $16.00
ISBN: 0-618-58535-4

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