Oliver & Joaquin dans l’espace! (Oliver & Joaquin in Space!)
by Gilbert Le Gras
Trafford Publishing

"It's very serious but if we all take the situation in hand now we believe we can avoid the worst consequences for us and our future children."

Oliver & Joaquin dans l'espace! is a lovely children's book that is written in both French and English with some Spanish parts as well. Le Gras accomplishes this by using a double column layout, in which one side is English, the other French. Two boys, Oliver and Joaquin, join forces with other characters to explore and travel the universe. In orbit, Laurent helps them on their journey by offering them snow boards that surf the solar winds, and on Mars they are helped by their cousins, Sophia and Rebeca, who fight off Martians and their dangerous lasers. With help from Patrick, Oliver and Joaquin arrive on Jupiter's moon Europa where they meet Paul, a strange creature that resembles a human, but has eight arms and nine brains. Once back on Earth, the boys use their new knowledge to help heal the planet from pollution.

This book is not a simple adventure tale by any means. Le Gras makes sure to impart an important lesson and message for children: We must take care of our planet right now. The Martians in the story pose a threat to Earth because they have so polluted their planet that they have no clean water anymore and they must now live underground. Le Gras makes sure to slip in educational elements into the story by using characters to explain things like an aurora borealis, the causes of climate change, and the effects of pollution. Beyond the educational aspect of the book, children will love the beautiful, detailed, almost water-color illustrations that give life to the prose of the story. However, the book almost reads like a screenplay, as it is completely told through dialogue. This makes it a bit confusing when new characters appear without introduction or explanation. Also, there are sections of exposition in Spanish that have no translation into English or French. On the whole, the book is a great adventure tale that teaches kids that they must be responsible for the health and care of our planet.

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