From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–Paper-collage whiz Jenkins returns to the space art he used to such breathtaking effect in Looking Down
(Houghton, 2003), but here he looks up: at the entire solar system, and, briefly, beyond. The text, written by his physicist father, provides a nearly number-free scattering of basic facts, beginning with an overview of the system, depicting planets and major moons from the Sun on out, then closing with spreads on space travel, and the idea of life on other planets. In alternating close-ups and pages of smaller scenes, the artist overlays pieces of cut, painted, crumpled, or otherwise worked papers for dramatic evocations of swirling clouds, airless expanses of rocky rubble, storms, volcanoes, spacecraft, and more. Unfortunately, the beauty here is sometimes only skin deep; the volcano Maxwell Mons, for instance, is incorrectly placed on Mars rather than Venus, and the clean look of one view of the solar system is achieved by leaving out the asteroid belt, and assigning Pluto to a wrong orbit. Furthermore, even the information that is accurate is widely available elsewhere, and some depictions of Saturn have an unfinished look. This tour makes a strong initial impression, but Dana Meachen Rau's Solar System
(Compass Point, 2000), Gail Gibbons's The Planets
(Holiday, 1993), and their plethora of companion travelogues make more reliable choices.–John Peters, New York Public Library
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Gr. 2-5. Jenkins, a former professor of physics and astronomy and the father of illustrator Steve Jenkins, takes young readers on a tour of the solar system. His clearly written text speaks to readers directly, encouraging them to imagine a visit to each space place and offering a variety of facts related to the sun, planet, moon, or comet under discussion. The collage illustrations do an excellent job of showing the comparative sizes of the planets and their relative distances from the sun. Made from a wide variety of colorful, cut and torn papers, the pictures are often beautiful, though understandably less precise than the photographic representations of the planets found in most books on the planets. A brief, appended bibliography suggests several adult books along with Seymour Simon's Destination Jupiter
(2000) and the NASA Web site. Readers who already know the order of the planets will have little trouble with the book's organization, but others will look in vain for an index. Still, children with an interest in astronomy will find this a vivid, handsome guide to their neighborhood in space. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved