Reading/Interest Level: Preschool
Author: Mark Tatulli
Illustrator: Mark Tatulli
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
The townspeople are faced with a dilemma when a spaceship lands in their town. Scared and apprehensive, they voice many hypotheses about why their otherworldly visitors have come and what they’re after. However, only young Stephen guesses correctly—they want marshmallows! (Who wouldn’t?) The aliens have come to earth with gallons of hot chocolate to share. With the addition of Stephen’s marshmallows, the hot chocolate becomes an extra special treat for the townspeople and the aliens to enjoy together, and no one is scared anymore!
This book’s biggest strength is its artwork. Illustrated in classic comic book/graphic novel style complete with speech bubbles, text boxes, and exaggerated character expressions, the book has delightfully bright, standout aesthetics. However, the story itself is only mildly entertaining, since it is devoid of complexity and relies heavily on tired stereotypes, such as the spacecraft’s sudden appearance in a town (causing mass panic among the citizens), a military officer viewing the spacecraft as a threat and pointing cannons at it, and a news reporter only concerned with getting the event on film. The one innovation in the brief plot is the marshmallow and hot chocolate idea, but even that feels too random to really make sense or seem believable. Preschoolers are likely to enjoy the vivid colors and distinct illustration style not often used in books written for their age group, but they are unlikely to remember the accompanying story, as it is vastly overshadowed by the book’s aesthetics.