Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover

In his first publication for young readers, Markus Motum's picture book biography of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity takes middle-grade readers to a new world. Giving the robotic spacecraft the role of narrator, Motum navigates the audience through the inception of space travel to Mars, to Curiosity's engineering and finally into its journey to the red planet.

Curiosity highlights facts such as early obstacles to exploring Mars, the competition to name the rover and reasons behind the launch timing. It also includes fascinating tidbits like the regulation that everyone had to wear white coveralls to keep the lab clean: "The team didn't want to think they had discovered tiny forms of life on Mars, only to realize that it was just Earth bacteria I'd brought with me."

Motum's retro illustrations incorporate a beautifully diverse population of humans, especially NASA scientists, and offer prime opportunities to understand explanations about Curiosity and to insert factoids ("I take photos from my navigation and hazard cameras and combine what I see in both pictures to find a safe route around Mars"). They also evoke a strong sense of place, often using pitch-black backdrops contrasted with the red hues of Mars. On Earth, a scene of Times Square incites the pride and excitement of Curiosity's successful landing.

With his striking and intriguing story about a rover named Curiosity, Motum is sure to ignite that inquisitive quality in his young readers. Whether they have budding interests in science or in science fiction, Curiosity has the potential to launch them all on an incredible journey. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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