My Dad Took Me to Outer Space

by Regina Tranfa
Mindstir Media

"We got into a rocket he had secretly been building and took off to Outer Space."

In this sweet and colorful children’s picture book, a father surprises his daughter with a spaceship trip to a friendly psychedelic outer space that resembles a happy, high-functioning rainbow version of the earth—minus the gravity, oxygen, and water. Familiar institutions abound, from hip space kids en route to school to an ice cream parlor full of sweet-toothed humanoids to an alien kitchen that is Jetsonesque in its mid-space display of slick appliances at the center of home and hearth. The traveling pair move through space with the simple, peaceful appreciation of observers, neither interacting nor assessing what they see. This is a world to behold, and the special context is that they see it together.

Parents can easily be likened to tour guides, leading kids through the safari landscape that is the world. If life is a journey, parents show kids the way and, in the best cases, introduce them to the array of possibilities available to them. They introduce terrain and offer kids a balance of guidance and freedom to observe and explore. Here, the dad’s surprise of a “journey” is a welcome and peaceful gift of a wide-open universe for a daughter who obviously trusts her father and is not unfamiliar with exploring the world with him.

This calm and trusting relationship between a father willing to reach into outer space for his daughter, and a girl who relies on him to give her the world, is reminiscent of Eric Carle’s splendid 1986 classic, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. Both stories showcase a heartwarming father-daughter bond that transcends earthly terrain. If love is infinite, outer space is an effective allegory for the forever that is a father’s devotion and commitment to giving his daughter the world. Furthermore, an enterprising dad who builds a ladder to the moon or, in this case, a secret spaceship, is a creative and accomplished role model for a child to admire and emulate.

The author delivers a visually beautiful world whose similarities to earth are relatable enough for kids to connect with yet new enough to fuel their imagination. This effective anthropomorphization of aliens reinforces the important childhood lesson that things that seem foreign can, indeed, be very relatable. In the vein of such relatable non-human literary vessels as The Bernstein Bears or Jonathan London’s Froggie series, the aliens in this story are symbols of how much we may have in common with those whose lives play in different colors, sizes, and galaxies.

The book’s full-page illustrations are a visual carnival for kids, blending colors, shapes, and motion for a unique and appealing vision of an outer space that is original and enticing. Words guide the way, providing adequate description without over-telling or attempting to explain what, in a story that is all whimsy, needs no explanation. Child readers will be sufficiently captivated by the robustness of the pictures and the uniquely themed eyeful that greets them with every turn of the page. That the book ends on a cliffhanger for a sequel is both fitting and inviting. A child who looks ahead to the future is a person with aspirations and curiosity. A book that models these qualities has much to offer families.

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