June 24th, 2020

Bookshow at Home with Jon Agee

Week 8 of The Children's Bookshow at Home sees us blasting off into outer space with our Book of the Week, Life on Mars by American author and illustrator, Jon Agee. Find out about Jon, and watch his entertaining animation which tells the story of a young astronaut trying to find life on another planet. There are lots of great activities too. You can sign up to our newsletter here, or follow us on twitter @ChildrensBkShow. Our activities should appeal to all kinds of readers, writers and artists, so everyone can get involved.

Book of the Week: Life on Mars

When an astronaut arrives on Mars, he is keen to find signs of life... maybe even someone he can share his chocolate cupcakes with! Life on Mars is a fantastically illustrated and funny book about exploring and noticing, and contains some valuable lessons for would-be astronauts: always remember where you parked your spaceship!

Author in focus

As a child Jon always had an art project on the go. He made picture books, comics, and – as a ten-year old, living in England – flip-books out of London tube ticket stubs. His fascination with language led to a slew of wordplay books, including four collections of palindromes, most notably: Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!

In his spare time Jon doodles, writes tongue twisters, anagrams, and poems, as well as visiting schools across the country and sometimes across the globe.

Jon's other books include Lion Lessons and The Wall in the Middle of the Book.

Watch Jon's animation of Life on Mars

Jon Activities!

Make a Pop-up

Follow these steps to create a pop-up version of this scene from Life on Mars:

Step 1
Start by creating the Martian landscape on some A3 paper (join two sheets of A4 paper together if necessary). Use pencil crayons, chalks or paint. You could either draw a pale background onto black paper or paint the black sky across the top of a white piece of paper.

Step 2
Next, create some rocks and craters by colouring with wax or pencil crayons onto white paper. Try and find different surfaces to lean on so that your colouring creates different textures on the paper. Cut out different shapes and sizes of rocks and craters and stick them onto the background.

Make one crater larger than the others and cut out a small slit in the middle.

Step 3
Draw the creature on card or paper, then cut it out and attach it to a lollipop stick or a strip of card. Finally, insert the stick/strip into the slit of the crater and your pop-up picture is ready!

Retell the Story

Find a creative way to retell the story. Here are some suggestions to get you started!

Suggestion 1: Drawing and Cutting
Draw and cut out characters and key scenes from the book, just like Jon has done in his video. Then have fun retelling the story!

Suggestion 2: Small World Play

Sprinkle some flour onto a tray. Find some characters to be your astronaut and creature. Make a model rocket using junk modelling. Model a landscape using real rocks and pebbles or make some using pliable materials such as screwed up paper and foil. Then retell the story using your characters and props.

Suggestion 3: Lego
Using Lego, create the surface of Mars, a spaceship, a monster and an astronaut. Then have fun using your creations to retell the story!

Write a Story

At this point in the story, the astronaut climbs an ‘interesting mountain’ to look for his spaceship. When he spots it in the distance, he races towards it and returns home. The story could have ended very differently. Think about what could have happened if he discovered what the mountain really was. Or if he decided to eat his cupcakes before returning to the spaceship. You could write your alternative ending to the story or you could tell it using the props from the activities above.

We'd love to read your stories, see your pop-ups and retellings of the story. To send us your work to display in our gallery use the link below, or upload to twitter with the hashtag #BookshowAtHome. You might also like to send us a video of you reading your work or showing us your lego or junk modelling creations!

Email us your work for our gallery

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