‘Life on Mars’ by Jon Agee: Picture book with an ‘inside’ joke kids will love


Jon Agee excels at creating picture books with unusual settings and characters. In “Life on Mars,” he continues his tradition with a story that takes place, obviously, on Mars. A young astronaut has longed to visit Mars and find the life that he is sure exists on that planet.

The young astronaut says that, “Everybody thinks I’m crazy. Nobody believes there is life on Mars. But I do. And I just know that I’m going to find it.”

He has brought a special gift for the life he expects to find on Mars: chocolate cupcakes. But as he wanders around the barren planet, he begins to doubt that he will find any life there at all. He puts the box down and decides that he should go back home. While trying to find his spaceship (he gets lost), he is thrilled when he does find life in the form of a flower.

The intrepid — and supremely successful and happy — young astronaut is surprised to find the cupcake box in a different place than where he had left it, but he picks it up, makes his way to the spaceship, and heads for home. He is happy that his belief was validated — and he has the flower he found to prove that life on Mars does exist.

But what the readers of the story know that the young astronaut does not is that there is more life on Mars than he realized. And back on his ship, traveling through space on his journey home, he opens the cupcake box to find a surprise.

Kids will love the twist! They will love being in on the secret with the Martian alien.

For young readers, this book serves as a great introduction to the kinds of books where the reader knows more information than the main character does. Watch the trailer below.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, for review purposes.


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