HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: First Graders From Mars, Episode #1: Horus’s Horrible Day
Author: Shana Corey
Illustrator: Mark Teague
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2001
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Corey, Shana. First Graders From Mars, Episode #1: Horus’s Horrible Day (published in 2001 by Scholastic Press). In this debut book of the “First Graders from Mars” series, Horus, a froggy-looking child with prehensile tentacles on his greenish-yellow head, starts elementary school in Pod 1 but becomes confused in his new classroom. He misses his good old days of “martiangarten” and asks, “Where are the snooze mats? Where are the snacks?” A reptilian girl with lilac hair responds, “First graders are too big for those things,” and Horus’s pink-and-green-spotted teacher, Ms. Vortex, who has eyes in the back of her head and in the front and on the sides, looks askance with concern. He decides that he doesn’t like it and he doesn’t want to go back, so his mother literally has to drag him to school the next day. This time he meets a new student who has the same reaction that he had and is scared, crying big blue tears out of her nose. As he begins to reassure her and encourages her to be brave, he forgets about his own doubts and offers to help her through her first day.
Author Shana Corey has written a delightful and humorous story, with flying cups, thinking capsules, and waving tentacles, that many first graders, especially those who are sent off on the big yellow bus, will relate to. Illustrator Mark Teague’s colorful cartoon drawings, with their spiky mountains, purple volcanoes and, green anemones, complement this comic sci-fi tale. The bug-eyed, rubbery-limbed creatures perform familiar tasks in comical ways. For example, Horus reads upside-down, balancing on his own face, and the students don’t just learn the right answers in math but actually form them with their bodies. We checked this book out of the library for our younger son Jeremy to have extra practice when he was learning to read. If nothing else, it helps homeschooled children to understand some of the problems and anxieties which they don’t have to worry about by not going to an institutional school. It is rather silly, but it is also somewhat cute. Other books in the series include Episode #2: The Problem With Pelly; Episode 3: Nergal and the Great Space Race; and Episode 4: Tera, Star Student. I have also seen an announcement for First Graders from Mars: Hot and Cold, which may be a proposed Episode 5.