Art on Mars

Usually I write about the kind of art that you see in galleries but today I want to show you this book cover by illustrator Andy Potts, which I think is particularly clever. Not only are the colours wonderful, the purples, reds and oranges, it is shiny in all the right places and I also like the way that the ideas are layered.

The book is about a bunch of children who are evacuated to Mars. You might guess that for this to happen things would have to be pretty bad on Earth and you would be right. There has been a long war against alien invaders and not only are humans being outgunned, the aliens like the climate cold and have reversed global warming to the extent that when the story starts, the ice cap has reached Nottingham.  Alice Dare, daughter of ace pilot Stephanie Dare, sees her school closed; she is chosen to be  one of the first children to be sent to the Red Planet. There she becomes friends with Josephine, brilliant but disorganised, Carl an exuberant Australian who wants to become a spaceship pilot himself and Noel his younger brother who finds all animals interesting – even maggots

Life on Mars is far from easy;  once there. the children have to cope with the irascible Colonel Cleaver who is determined to turn them into elite fighting force for the time when they will be old enough to combat the aliens themselves. Just because you are Mars doesn’t mean there are no school bullies.  And  they soon find there are dangers far worse than anybody on earth could imagine. Even though the children are trying to save the solar system, they  don’t even get let off school work and are taught by a robotic goldfish who wants to impart knowledge no matter what the dangers; it  is also very keen on teamwork. Alice’s advice for these situations is “always bring duct tape.”

The book is both exciting and funny.  See this review by  Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books  .Andy Potts has captured this brilliantly in the cover.  The children look heroic which they are. If you look closely you will see that the shape  down the right hand side is the Goldfish and its eye is formed by the head of one of the children. In real life, it looks even better, shinier and brighter than it does in this picture.


Sophia McDougall: Mars Evacuees; cover by Andy Potts

Oh, and you may have noticed that the book is by Sophia McDougall. That is no coincidence; yes she is my daughter, the very same that I painted in Sophia Writing in Striped Socks. Mars Evacuees is what she was writing. The book is published today. It is aimed at children in the  8 to 12 age bracket. Many adults will enjoy it too. I did, though it was a somewhat tantalising experience as I was only able to read it a chapter at a time as it was written, which took over a year.  I’m now reading the sequel in the same way. “Haven’t you got any Mars for me to read,” is my normal question when we meet.  If you have a boring train ride or the flu, and want a book that is exciting, that will make you laugh and cheer you up – I really recommend it.

Mars Evacuees is published by Egmont and is available in bookshops from today and from Amazon