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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

REVIEW: The Only Astronaut, by Mahak Jain, illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier

On Sale June 6, 2023

A girl who loves solo space travel learns that having a partner can be even better. Avni loves being the only astronaut in her space station. She's in charge of when she takes off and where she goes. But space exploration can be a lot of work for one astronaut. It's time for a new mission: find an assistant. Avni crisscrosses the distant galaxies (her neighborhood) in search of the perfect partner. Does that even exist? Will Avni make space for a copilot or will it be mission impossible? Award-winning author Mahak Jain has crafted a witty and wonderful story about friendship, imagination and the thrill of a good adventure. Andrea Stegmaier's dynamic and highly detailed art uses line drawing overlays in orange, for Avni, and blue, for Aya, to cleverly depict the world as seen in each of their imaginations. It's a terrific representation of a child making room for both their own creativity and another's perspective. Avni's regular mantra, “An astronaut never gives up,” celebrates the power of perseverance and collaboration without compromising one's goals. This book highlights the character education concepts of teamwork, cooperation, adaptability and resilience. It also offers an invitation to children to use their imaginations and remain open to the exciting possibilities of exploration (as astronauts or aquanauts!).

I chose this title to review with my 9 year old daughter. She loves space, can't decide if she wants to do "pure science" or be an astronaut, or maybe a chef or a teacher or .......... *grin* Regardless, we enjoy reading together and she knows I review books. So, you get a two-for-one deal today!

Up first, her review. I asked her to tell me 3 things she really liked about the book.

1. The drawings. There was so much to look at! I liked the cat and the dog, and I liked how they showed the imagination pictures.

2. The adventure Avni and Aya went on, and how you could see there would be more adventures.

3. Avni made a friend with an imagination as big as hers!

Now, the mama/librarian/reading teacher review.

What a fun read! The story was cute and the illustrations made the book just perfect. I loved the mission log, the different possible assistants--and why they didn't work out! I absolutely ADORED that my daughter saw herself in the story (we've had a cardboard rocket ship or two in the living room!). 

I love the contrasting colors between Avni's imaginary scenes and Aya's, layered over the "real life" images. Even my 9 year old picked up quickly who was "seeing" which drawing. 

I'm all about sneaking in important lessons, like the blurb says--teamwork, perseverance, adaptability. Just what imaginative play should look like for kids that age.  

Even though I'm in a high school library, I'll be adding this to my collection. I can see it being used in an art class as you talk about perception in art. And I know it would be a delight in our future teacher program. 

 Overall, we both loved it and we cannot wait to get our hands on a print copy when it's released. 

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Kids Can Press through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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