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Blast Off to Mars!: The Backyardigans    adapted by Astora Newton order for
Blast Off to Mars!
by Astora Newton
Order:  USA  Can
Golden Books, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Tucked inside the front cover of this Backyardigans book is a mail-in postcard for a Free Nick Jr. Music Sampler CD (offer good through January 31, 2007). Turning to the first coloring page, you are met by: 'I'm Commander Uniqua. I'm an astronaut.' In the following pages, the Commander's pals greet the reader as they report for duty - Science Officer Pablo, and Lieutenant Austin.

Mission Control operators announce that they are getting a 'strange signal from Mars ... boinga, boinga, boinga!' The shuttle crew is requested to discover 'what's making that noise', and soon the 'space shuttle is ready for liftoff!'

In addition to coloring, activities include connect the dots, a color-by-number with a color key (1=Blue, 2=Green, etc.), objects to count and recognize what is needed for specific chores, and numerous maze puzzles to help the crew find their way. As you color the space uniform on one of the pages, you are directed to draw in your own face - Yea! you then become part of the space crew!

The crew board R.O.V.E.R, a six-wheeled vehicle which helps the crew get around the planet Mars, as they dodge meteor showers, and locate the source of the boinga noise. I love the back cover best of all, as it features colorful cutouts to create your own Stellar Space Mobile (instructions included).

Blast Off to Mars! is a fine-tuned story adaptation by Astora Newton, based on an episode written by Robert Scull, named Mission to Mars. A hardy sixty-four pages of reading and fun activities will delight youngsters (and oldsters, too). Get ready to Blast Off for hours of entertainment!

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