The way things are going here on Earth, we’re going to need to colonize Mars soon. A new hard science fiction picture book (how often do we hear those words?) will not only get your kid excited about blasting off to the Red Planet, it’s chock-full of lessons about how to survive once there.
In 2015, aerospace engineer Andrew Rader and illustrator Galen Frazer teamed up to publish Epic Space Adventure, a children’s book that recounts Giraffestronaut MC Longneck’s Voyager-esque journey through the Solar System with his robot companion Sputnik. In Mars Rover Rescue, MC Longneck is back, this time, on a mission rescue a lost Mars rover with the help of some equally adorable friends from the National Association of Space Animals (NASA).
The artwork and storylines are delightful, but what’s most impressive about Rader’s recent books is their educational value. The rockets, spaceships, and rovers featured in Epic Space Adventure and Mars Rover Rescue offer realistic representations of state-of-the-art space technology, or tech that futurists like Elon Musk hope to build in a generation. The Mars rover, for instance, looks very much like Curiosity.
In Mars Rover Rescue, which Rader describes as “basically The Martian for kids,” MC Longneck and his NASA buddies engage in realistic survival activities, including melting ice for water and—in a clear shoutout to Mark Watney—growing potatoes.
“It’s trying to show kids what it’ll really be like to live on another planet,” Rader told io9. “The reality is, it’s the kids growing up right now who will be going to Mars and living there.”
Courtesy of Rader, io9 is excited to share a sneak peek of the artwork from Mars Rover Rescue, which features 56 pages of full-color illustrations. You can get the hardcover and E-book edition for just $13 by backing the book’s (already funded) Kickstarter, or chip in a bit more and get card games, sticker packs, and coloring books, too. Books start shipping in December, with a guaranteed arrival by Christmas in the United States.
[Kickstarter h/t Andrew Rader]