I Heart Pluto
I Heart Pluto
Pluto the planet
was really quite proud.
But at the party of planets,
it wasn’t allowed.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 and declared to be the ninth planet from the Sun. However, the 2005 discovery of a dwarf planet more massive than Pluto led the International Astronomical Union to define the term "planet" formally. As a result of this new definition, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
Authors Chris Ferrie and Helen Maynard-Casely, supported by the cartoon-like illustrations of Lizzy Doyle, take an anthropomorphic approach to explaining why Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status. When Pluto turns up at a “PLANETS ONLY” party, it is turned away because, it seems, Pluto did not meet one or more of the three requirements (called “Rules” in the book) it needed in order to qualify for full planetary status. While the book’s text does identify the trio of requirements, unfortunately, the authors do not make clear which of these criteria Pluto met/failed to meet.
The board book’s main text consists of a series of quatrains having an ABCB rhyme scheme. In three instances, all relating to the “Rules”, the authors add some prose to clarify a quatrain’s meaning.
For example, with the quatrain reading:
Rule number three:
you must have tidied your space.
On your own orbit
you must be the showcase.
To clarify the verse’s meaning, the authors have added:
PLANETS MUST NOT
HAVE DEBRIS OR
IN THEIR ORBIT.
Illustrator Doyle has superimposed this latter text on a scroll to which she has added a diagram of what a debris-free orbit should/should not look like. While the prose and illustrations do provide some clarification, the adult reader is still left to explain the meaning of “debris” and orbit”.
Oddly, on the back cover of the board book, a part of a book often ignored by readers, there is an “I [heart] FACTS!” listing of nine “facts”, such as “HAUMEA spins so fast that a day lasts about 4 hours” and “CERES is the only dwarf planet in our solar system”. Surely, if this information was of any importance to the book, a place could have been found for it “inside” the book, including the page where a number of these objects were identified by name.
The “peekaboo” die-cut circles, rectangles and hearts found on some of the pages are entirely decorative as are most of Doyle’s anthropomorphic illustrations. The board book’s content might have been clearer had the authors used prose throughout as their poetry, when read aloud, frequently comes across as clunky and contrived.
I Heart Pluto might have a place in some home collections, but most institutional libraries can pass on this one.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.