I first met Greetings From Planet Earth by Barbara Kerley a couple of weeks ago at the library. The spine really caught my attention. That font, those colors - the book looked like it ought to be thirty or forty years old. But the book had a shiny new plastic jacket and a "NEW BOOK" sticker half-covering the first letter of the author's name. I had to investigate.
The cover illustration looked just like the cover illustrations on the books that had been published when I was very young - scratchy line drawing filled in with pools of uniform colors like bright red and pale turquoise. The end paper was that bumpy stuff you never see anymore. Published in 2007 but set thirty years ago, I held in my hands a piece of historical fiction about WHEN I WAS ALIVE ALREADY! I must be getting really old.
I smiled at the book designer's cleverness and popped it back on the shelf.
But I couldn't get it out of my head. Two weeks later I was back to check it out. I am glad I did. This is unlike any book I have read before. It deftly combined the wonder of moon exploration and the Voyager probes with the tragedy of Vietnam, all through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy who wants to know more about his missing father. The book made me think, made me laugh, made me cry, made me wonder. What more could I ask?
Could I write a book like that?