The Story of a Mars Rover
This book is an absolute wonder. I am not an avid follower of science, so I was afraid that this book just wouldn’t be for me. How wrong I was!
This is the story, so far, of Curiosity, the latest Mars rover -a piece of amazing technology, that is trying to discover the secrets of one of Earth’s nearest neighbours and maybe unlock one of the biggest questions we humans have asked as we gazed out into the big sky: ‘Is there anybody else out there?’
With a stroke of genius, this is written in the first person. Thanks to Markus Motum, Curiosity takes on its own personality and, because of the humanity of the machine, the book is so very accessible.
There is some fascinating background as to why and how this wonderful automaton came to be. The author/illustrator explains some of the complexities of the development and construction of Curiosity. Some interesting facts about the factory where this wizardry takes place are so interesting (well perhaps it’s just to me, an old technophobe?) – for example the need to keep the working environment free from bacteria to ensure that any germs found are indigenous to the Red Planet and have not been carried there by the rover. There is even a stunning map of America to show where Curiosity had to travel from the place it was created to the place it would be launched- the BLAST OFF! page is one of my favourites.
We learn about the 35000000-mile journey that this amazing little robotic scientist had to make and after the 253 day journey Motum guides us through the precarious landing procedure.
Curiosity explores and tests Mars to answer the question – was there ever life there? At the end of the book is a fabulous timeline, putting the rover into perspective in the space travel calendar.
There is so much information in this book that I could never do it justice in this review: it is packed with easily-digested, cleverly-written information. Motum deals with highly complicated science and manages to distil it into compelling and completely understandable text. Near the end of the book is a great insightful quote about human curiosity from Clara Ma, a lovely touch.
I was completely bowled over by this book. Its sheer size and the quality of the paper in the first instance makes it irresistible. The illustrations completely draw you in. The colour palette is perfect- it is slightly muted but creates the perfect atmosphere. Dark and light, shadow and highlighting are used to terrific effect. The style reminds me a little of Owen Davey. Motum uses the double page spread to create a fantastic drama. He portrays people with different skin colours and women are shown at work in the space industry – should I even be mentioning this in 2018? – well I did! It’s vital that children see themselves and their families in all books.
I would recommend this book to all. Children and adults alike will find it absorbing, informative and utterly enjoyable. I love it when a book surprises me and this certainly did. I completely loved it and look forward to more from the talented Markus Motum. I am not surprised at all that this book is nominated for the Klaus Flugge prize: it is clever, accessible and has piqued my own curiosity and I will certainly be seeking out more space-based books in the future…especially if Motum writes more!