Earth is such a cool planet with much to discover! That’s what the Marshmallow Martians think, and they’re eager to learn all about it.
Squishy, Snug, Woof, and Fuzz receive a mystery box from their computer, G.L.O.W. After having fun guessing what could be in the box, they are excited to open it and meet P.E.E.P, the Polite Extraordinary Earth Portal 1000. This is perfect for a bunch of marshmallows that want to learn more about Earth! Trying to decide what on Earth they want to visit first, they ask G.L.O.W. to search for the best Earth things. Due to low Wi-Fi, the results remain incomplete, leaving “Show and __ell”. The Martians guess that the results were supposed to say “Show and Smell”; and they start planning a trip to an Earth amusement park, a location with many smelly smells. At the amusement park, the Martians find stinky shoes, onions, burps, and skunks. They jar the smells from each using their “high-tech smell suckers”. Back on their planet, Moop, the Marshmallow Martians put on a show for their friends, presenting the Earth smells. The story ends with the Martians thanking P.E.E.P. for the adventure; and they immediately start planning for their next trip.
Marshmallow Martians: Show and Smell is cute, funny, and interesting. It is silly, as well as occasionally educational. The Martians learn that you have to peel an onion to access the smell. They also learn where burps come from, and subsequently create a “bubbly drink” stand to get the humans to burp. The interactions between all of the characters display good manners, even while discussing things that are considered gross. I think this combination can appeal to young children, and at the same time, encourage quality social skills. I like the message that good manners and gross subject matter are not mutually exclusive.
Throughout the book, the reader gets to see the step-by-step thought-processes of the characters. This detailed order of events is perfect for young children learning to consider every step required to accomplish a task. At the end of the book, the characters want to go on another adventure to explore Earth. This can get the reader excited about reading the next books in the series and possibly want to go out and explore Earth in real life.
The visual art includes bright, fun colors. The scenes are simple, most containing only a sky, ground, and a few other items. Additionally, the background colors are not as saturated as the characters, keeping the characters in focus. Rounded versus jagged speech bubbles clearly express different voice tones. In my head, I heard a robotic voice when I saw G.L.O.W.’s jagged speech bubble. The Marshmallow Martians have big eyes, which are adorable and make them look young, like the intended audience. Children aged 5-8 years old who enjoy giggling will love this book.
Marshmallow Martians: Show and Smell
By Deanna Kent
Art by Neil Hooson
Penguin Random House Graphic, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 5-8
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)