A spectacular tour of our solar system
Meet the Planets by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin
Meet the Planets is an eye-catching explosion of energy, just like the cosmic landscape it depicts. This stunning book takes children on a spectacular tour of the solar system and is an entertaining and memorable introduction to all the planets. Its fascinating facts and striking illustrations are a stellar combination.
We zoom around space and learn a few facts about each planet as we stop for a brief chat with them. Though most are hostile to life as we know it, they're all extremely friendly. The planets love to talk about themselves (some more than others!) and each one has a distinct personality.
The lively rhyming text is loaded with information but never feels forced or overwhelming. I have to admit that I learned a lot from this myself. I had no idea that Venus is covered in volcanoes, how fast Mercury is or that many of these giant balls are not even solid!
I love how this story defies gender stereotypes. Not only is the mini astronaut a girl, but in her bedroom are trucks, trains, telescopes, test tubes, magnets and dinosaurs, as well as tea sets and dolls houses. This demonstrates how girls can like, and do, whatever they want (see Caryl's Princess series and Girls Can Do Anything for more books that champion equality).
It's also fantastic that the book's protagonist is not white. The Guardian recently reported that only 5% of children’s books had black, Asian or minority ethnic main characters in 2019. It's important to Caryl that all children see themselves represented in her work and every single book we own by this author features characters from diverse cultural backgrounds.
I've mentioned it before, but Caryl Hart is a literary and literal superstar as far as I'm concerned. Not only a prolific writer of acclaimed, bestselling and utterly brilliant children's books, Caryl also blogs about, and tirelessly promotes, literature for young readers. The sequel to this book, Meet the Oceans releases on 4th March 2021 and is also illustrated by Bethan Woollvin - I can't wait!
The colour palette alone is dazzling and the planets, with their enormous eyes and beaming smiles, are animated and endearing. The little girl's dog is as curious and captivated by all of the sights she is. His body language changes constantly and is remarkably expressive, we even see him shiver when the rocket passes cooler planets.
Bethan Woollvin's artwork is amazing; it's so unique and exciting and perfectly complements the subject and style of this story. We have How to Catch a Monster which Bethan wrote as well as illustrated (review coming soon). I'm dying to get hold of her fairy tale collection which looks gorgeous and intriguing too.
We bought Meet the Planets in November and we have been reading it regularly ever since. I ordered a signed copy directly from the author's website which came with lots of lovely stickers and postcards. There are tons of free resources and activities available to download from Caryl's website too.
For parents looking to give lockdown learning a lift, this is ideal, and it would be an excellent resource for teachers when they return to classrooms. Luminous and illuminating, Meet the Planets is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf. This brilliantly and beautifully brings all the planets to life, and you'll never look at them the same way again!
PS. Here are even more forthcoming books from Caryl - how adorable does Sonny Says, "Mine!" look? I will be sharing a review of Mini Monsters: Can I Be The Best soon (it's fab!). We have just discovered the Albie books and can't wait for the next one, How to Track a Sabre-Tooth Tiger. It goes without saying that Meet the Oceans is eagerly anticipated too and just when I thought the When a Dragon... series couldn't get any cuter, along comes When a Dragon Meets a Baby!
Title: Meet the Planets
Author: Caryl Hart
Illustrator: Bethan Woollvin
Publication Date: 15th June 2020