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14:14 PB ELEMENTS – You Are the First Kid on Mars – DIALOGUE

February 25, 2015

Space–the final frontier.

You Are The First Kid on MarsFirst Kid on Mars
author & illustrator
Patrick O’Brien

(c) 2009, G. P. Putnam’s Sons

(1,944 words, AR Reading Level 5.0)

One thing that launched some thought when I opened this book was the jacket-flap description of this Patrick O’Brien book as one of his ‘factual’ books.  Having determined to focus my participation in this year’s 14:14 Challenge on non-fiction, I pulled this book out immediately.  (Besides.  I’m a Trekkie, I loved Star Wars, and I’ve been a science fiction fan for half a century.)

I opened this book to look for story elements. The first element that’s noticeable in both title and text is the point of view.

YOU.  This book is second person point of view, and the whole adventure is directed at imagination, engaging the reader from the first sentence. I supposed then the element, by broad definition, is DIALOGUE.

While one book might tell a story from the third person point of view as an outsider, another might tell it from a first person point of view.

I think O’Brien matches the topic here (an imaginary, but fact-full future journey) by using second person point-of-view.  YOU. The writer (or should I say the book?) is speaking to the reader, and explaining to reader just what an experience would be like.

“This book will tell you what would happen, and what you would do, if you were the first kid on Mars.”

(Emphasis mine.) Great pacing ensues, with the young astronaut leaving earth, boarding a spaceship from a space station, seeing Earth shrink and Mars grow larger, and landing on the red planet. But throughout, the reader is engaged in the experience:

You feel the ship shaking and jerking, and you see flames shooting past the window.  The Martian air is slowing you down. Then the flames stop and you are plummeting toward the surface.”

There’s much to learn and experience, from high mountains to deep canyons that exceed anything on earth. Each embedded picture shares facts about the trip, the Mars environment, the ways people adapt to live on the planet.

But dialogue is the key element here, and effectively takes the reader on a journey to “boldly explore where no kid has gone before.”

(Meanwhile…how do you define “factual?”  Is it a fact-based presentation based on an imagined experience? Should it be totally void of imagination, purely non-fiction? What is factual, and is it distinguishable from non-fiction in terminology?)

(See a list of other reviewers’ posts in Christi’s latest post at Write Wild.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2015 6:29 pm

    Wow – I don’t know that I’ve even seen a fiction picture book in second person, not to mention a factual one! What an original way to teach about space. I’ll have to find this one and take a reading trip to Mars, even if I may not qualify as the first “kid” anymore…

  2. February 28, 2015 5:21 pm

    from the examples you’ve given, it appears 2nd person POV works perfectly in this book

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