Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review - Come Back to Earth, Esther!

Come Back to Earth, Esther!
by Josée Bisaillon
Date: 2019
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

What Esther loves the most, what she dreams about every night, is space.

From the award-winning illustrator of Leap!, Bedtime 1, 2, 3, and The Snow Knows, Come Back to Earth, Esther! is a full-hearted celebration of a fun-loving, space-obsessed girl who wishes, more than anything, to build her own spaceship, liftoff into the sky, and explore the galaxy. Featuring lively, accessible text and an exceptional protagonist with a supportive, diverse family, this STEM-friendly book is a celebration of imagination and making your own dreams come true.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm sad to say that this book didn't work for me at all. I enjoy Josée Bisaillon's artwork, and thought this book sounded interesting. But it's a story I've seen before, and it wasn't done particularly well here.

Some of these issues may be down to the translation. (This appears to be a translation of the original French text.) Early in the book, it's stated that Esther wants to "visit" the Milky Way. Wouldn't a space-obsessed kid know that she's already in it? Perhaps a better word would've been "explore". The text is clunky in spots, too:

The spaceship takes off, high in the sky, leaving behind a dusty cloud as it reaches for the stars.

The way that's worded implies that the launchpad was in the sky. (Perhaps it should've read "high into the sky" instead to avoid confusion.)

I also don't buy that Esther is that obsessed with space. If she is, her obsession is more sci-fi than science. A kid who reads lots of books about space would not wonder if there were alien girls on Mars reading books about Earth; she would probably be able to educate you on the Mars rover programs instead. And someone who's read lots of books about space would not think that the Northern Lights are a band of green floating out in the middle of space with Earth in the distance; she'd know they're in the Earth's magnetosphere. (I hate to say it, but it almost seems like there wasn't enough research done before writing and illustrating this one. If you're going to write about a kid with an obsession with a particular topic, you need to be even more knowledgeable about the topic than they are!)

The illustrations are fun and fancy, done in Bisaillon's signature style that incorporates illustration with collage. The style of the pictures is lovely. I just wish they had been more accurate in certain places.

Thank you to NetGalley and Nimbus Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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