By: John McGranaghan
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: March 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Reviewed: April 2011
Pluto stepped in to become the host of the Favorite Planet Competition and, list in hand, was prepared to tell everyone about our “Solar System inside the beautiful Milky Way Galaxy.” The Milky Way swirled in the skies above Stonehenge as he glanced at the crowd and smiled. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune “have been around for billions of years,” and the competition was stiff. Pluto’s list was ready and he began to talk about the inner planets. All four are solid, rocky, and anxious to be considered a favorite. First up was Mercury who is the “fastest moving planet in the Solar System” who circles the sun in a mere 88 days. You may know that he is “covered in craters,” but do you know about the god he was named after? Next up in the Favorite Planet Competition to be welcomed by Pluto, was the sizzling hot Venus. She’s not only beautiful, but is “often mistaken for a star.”
Mother Earth and Mars, not to be outdone by a star, were next up in the competition. Mars had a lovely “red-face” glow from his “iron-rich soil.” He was the last of the inner planets to be presented. The first up of the outer planets was the “massive, gassive Jupiter,” who has “a red spot the size of two Earths.” Amazing! Saturn, who was not to be forgotten, is “surrounded by a dazzling display of rings.” Talk about gorgeous! Slanted Uranus could boast that he “spins on his side.” Guess how many years of darkness and sunlight he gets? Last up in the competition is Neptune, a stunning blue planet that has winds that swirl “over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) per hour” on its surface. The facts are out, the planets have strutted their stuff, but who do you think will be named the favorite planet?
This is a dazzling, fun way for the young student to learn some basic facts about the planets. The illustrations are vibrant and stunning and along with the presentation of the eight planets in the Favorite Planet Competition are many other interesting “characters” to explore. For example, in the background or “audience,” we see illustrations of constellations, space probes, astronomers, and other things like Stonehenge. The older student may enjoy naming these additional figures and their presence could easily lend itself to becoming a stepping stone to a school report. There are an additional six pages of activities in the back of the book, a real plus for the homeschooler or classroom teacher. For example, there is a Solar System “matching activity” that lists some of the facts about the planets and one that contains a set of true or false questions (the answer key is upside down on the same page). Additional cross-curricular activities for parents and educators can be found on the publisher’s website.
Quill says: This is an exciting, fun way to learn about the Solar System as young students travel with Pluto during a Favorite Planet Competition!