When NASA announces the crew of the upcoming Mars mission, Meteor the Mousetronaut is, shockingly, not on the list.
No matter; the little mouse isn’t about to let his training go to waste. He packs his spacesuit and stows away on the Galaxy, floating out to scavenge crumbs while the human crew sleeps. After six months, the Galaxy reaches Mars orbit—but one of the landing craft’s engines fails, and the remaining one isn’t strong enough to transport even one human. Meteor volunteers for duty and, equipped with a tiny American flag, descends to the Red Planet to gather rock samples. Six months later, he returns to Earth to be welcomed as a hero with the other astronauts. While this story inevitably lacks the freshness of Meteor’s debut (Mousetronaut, 2012), Kelly’s prose and storytelling have matured, and Meteor’s enthusiasm is as infectious as ever. Payne’s delightfully regular-looking, multiethnic and gender-inclusive crew displays the same winning combination of heroism and lumpiness (the mission commander has an endearingly potatolike face) that distinguished the first adventure. Perhaps what’s most striking about this book, though, is the four-page afterword, in which Kelly summarizes the history of Mars exploration and discusses the potential for a real manned mission. His eloquence in advocating for a vigorous space program bespeaks both passion and experience.
Rodent or no, Meteor sure is one heck of a space ambassador. (Picture book. 4-8)
About the Author
was a captain in the United States Navy when he commanded the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour in May of 2011. A veteran of four space flights to the International Space Station, he is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and holds a masters degree from the US Naval Post Graduate School. As a naval aviator he flew thirty-nine combat missions in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.C.F. Payne
has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy
and Turkey Bowl
, both written by Phil Bildner. He also illustrated the New York Times
bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride
, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. C.F. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him at CFPayne.com.