Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars Ages 6-12

Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings
By Douglas Florian
Illustrated by Douglas Florian
Edition: illustrated
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007
ISBN 0152053727, 9780152053727
56 pages
Blast off with Douglas Florian's new high-flying compendium, which features twenty whimsical poems about space. From the moon to the stars, from the Earth to Mars, here is an exuberant celebration of our celestial surroundings that's certain to become a universal favorite among aspiring astronomers everywhere. Includes die-cut pages and a glossary of space terms.
Stunning mixed-media illustrations ...
... accompany a series of poems that celebrate the wonder and mystery of space. From the universe, the sequence narrows its focus to the galaxy, the solar system and then each body in turn, from the sun to poor demoted Pluto, and beyond. The verse is characteristically playful, wrapping itself around astronomical facts with ease. Readers will learn about the temperature and size of the sun, our moon's phases and Voyager 2's discovery of Neptune's rings. Delightful as the poems are, however, it's this volume's illustrations that surpass. Bright gouache on brown paper bags lend texture to each spread; stamped words allow the illustrations to incorporate such details as names of moons and "sun" in several different languages; collage elements add further whimsy to the whole. To top off this feast for the eyes, occasional die-cuts provide telescopic windows onto adjoining spreads, firmly establishing for the reader the truth that space is a vast continuum, with new surprises in every corner of the sky. Each poem receives a thumbnail gloss at the end, offering additional facts or extending the information presented earlier. Glorious. (Picture book/poetry. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) 4/1/2007 VNU Business Media, Inc.
Gr 1–5 Ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11Nothing gladdens the heart of ...
... believers in good poetry for children more than a new collection by Florian, whose verses and paintings consistently capture the essence of his featured themes. This one literally sings the music of the spheres. Twenty playfully lyrical poems treat topics such as the universe, the individual planets, constellations, and black holes. Each selection is presented on its own spread and adorned with a magical painting done in gouache, collage, and rubber stamps on brown paper. Circles abound in the artwork, and many pages have round cut-outs that lead into the next picture. For example, "the earth" ("Two-thirds water./One-third land./Valleys deep./Mountains grand") is illustrated with a colorful globe decorated with circled collage prints of animals and plants. A smaller orb appears nearby, made from a cut-out circle that reveals part of the illustration for the next selection, "the moon." Some of the paintings incorporate mythological names and images. The pleasing blend of faded shades and brilliant colors, of old-fashioned prints and fanciful sketches, makes the illustrations seem both antique and high-tech. An appended "Galactic Glossary" provides additional information. In both language and artwork, Florian strikes the perfect balance between grandeur and whimsy. Like Myra Cohn Livingston and Leonard Everett Fisher's Space Songs (Holiday House, 1988; o.p.), this book is a work of art worthy of the vastness of its subject.—Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME

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