Field Trip to the Moon

illus. by John Hare. 40p. Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson Bks. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823442539.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—Hare's picture book debut is a winner. His wordless tale in acrylic paint depicts a typical class field trip to the moon—the school bus ship, the trek across a gray lunar surface, the leap over a big chasm, a lecture on craters, and the one kid who lags behind. In this case the kid who lags behind is armed with crayons and a sketch pad. After wandering off to sketch the Earth and accidentally napping, the child awakens to discover the bus ship leaving! Despite some initial panic, the youngster settles in to draw and wait for its return, unknowingly attracting a crowd of gray aliens fascinated by the colored crayons. A hilarious fun fest of aliens drawing—on paper, on rock, on one another—ensues until the bus returns and they fade back into the moon dust. The happy reunion is marred only when the teacher notices the drawings on the rock that the child must remove before they leave. It is only on the final page that the face of the protagonist is revealed to be that of a dark-haired girl. Hare flawlessly and convincingly depicts the emotions of his characters — the desire to draw, the panic of being left behind, the joy of being remembered, and everything in between—all while they are wearing space suits with black, opaque face shields. His gray yet surprisingly detailed moonscape is both the setting and a character in its own right; his depiction of the aliens as gray humanoids amazed by color is genius.
VERDICT A beautifully done wordless story about a field trip to the moon with a sweet and funny alien encounter; what's not to like? A must-have for most libraries.

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