Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Summary: Bell, age 11, is the youngest kid in the American settlement on Mars. He enjoys his life underground, hanging out with the teenagers, working on the algae farm, and taking care of his cat, Leo. There aren’t many rules, but the few that are in place are strictly enforced. One of these is about not interacting with other countries’ settlements, even though it seems as though there were international friendships in the past. When a shipment from Earth unleashes a serious illness among the adults, it falls on the kids to try to get help from Finland, France, or one of the other countries. What they discover there surprises everyone–and leads to a healing of misunderstandings of the past. Includes a lengthy author’s note about her interest in Mars and space exploration and how she came to write this book. 272 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Jennifer Holm adds another masterpiece to her unusually diverse list of works, this one a fun science fiction story that imagines a pretty plausible settlement on Mars with a cast of loveable characters, and a few interesting plot twists. This would make a great book club selection that would appeal to a wide range of readers.
Cons: It seemed sad that anyone who settled on Mars was unable to ever return to Earth.