All you need is a man with a plan — or, in the case of this deliciously detailed diversion, a boy with a ploy . . . or two . . . or even 24.

As the jovial moon shining on the book cover declares, space travel is “easy and FUN!” Mordicai Gerstein, winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal for his moving tribute to a vanished past (“The Man Who Walked Between the Towers”) here abandons the lyrical text and painterly perspectives that won him such justifiable acclaim in favor of cluttered cartoons, cheeky speech bubbles and whimsical wit.

What remains as a true constant, however, is the deep sense of one individual’s determination to achieve a seemingly impossible goal and a step-by-step scheme to get him there.

The gap-toothed, astronaut-suited, bicycle-toting narrator offers a plan that involves 2,000 used inner tubes, a flagpole, a ship’s anchor, enough garden hoses to stretch 238,900 miles, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich washed down with a splash of chocolate milk (plus some “nourishing, flavored GLOP” courtesy of NASA) and, oh yes, some sunflower seeds, a trowel and a little bit of compost.

If you’re not sure you’re ready to abandon those training wheels quite yet, pick up a copy of Caldecott Medal-winner Chris Raschka’s latest creation for the very young: “Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle” is gracefully illustrated with his signature loose and luminous watercolors and an extra-generous ounce of encouragement.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard


A Simple But Brilliant Plan in 24 Easy Steps

By Mordicai Gerstein

Roaring Brook. $16.99. Ages 6-8