Monday, June 19, 2017

Big Questions

Picture Book: Life on Mars
Author & Illustrator: Jon Agee
Summary: Alone in his determination to prove life on Mars, 
an astronaut arrives on the planet with a gift of chocolate cupcakes. 
He walks upon the “gloomy” surface,
ready to spy any sign of life. Soon he is spotted 
 and followed, 
but he is oblivious or perhaps his companion is particularly sneaky and shy.
With such a desolate landscape, the astronaut reconsiders his position. “Could anything possibly live here?” 
Hopeless, he decides to go home and drops the gift. 
It is quickly inspected by the Martian. 
 After much wandering and losing his way, 
the astronaut spots a lone flower.  
He picks it to take back to Earth, proof that he was right. 
Soon after, he comes upon his gift, picks it up, and climbs a mountain to seek his spaceship.  
The mountain is unusual in its color, but he doesn't notice.
He finds the spaceship and leaves the planet certain of his success and initial position. 
After blasting toward home, he opens the package believing he is deserving of the cupcakes. 
 Surprise!
Hanna’s Comments: Your children in your faith family or at home will love this story. It’s simple, funny, and profound. The illustrations really tell the story so make sure your audience has a clear view. You’ll be surprised how quickly children can step into conversations about proof or lack of proof where God is concerned. Make sure they understand that you are not saying that God is the Martian although there may be ways the Martian is like God (present or  observant, for instance). There’s a lot to interpret here, particularly the thoughts and feelings of the Martian. Belief seems to be the main theme, but it offers an opportunity to explore several theological ideas such as faith, doubt, exploration, certainty, pride, and wisdom. The concept of plunder comes to mind too. For an adult audience, might this book be a parable for those who are oblivious to and disrespectful of the rich and valid theologies of other faiths? Might the flower be symbolic of natural resources as signs of God’s presence? Is this little gift representing the little bit we might offer in exchange for access to something much richer and perhaps not ours to be accessed? All possible directions this fun book can take you and your listeners.  
Original Publisher & Date: Dial Books, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1); for we walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of elementary children, teens, or adults and do some age-appropriate exploring of some of the concepts  and big questions listed above or others you find.