Astro needs to find his spaceship and complete his mission, but he can’t do it without your help!

Astro the astronaut is lost and alone, adrift in space with no way to get home. Luckily for him, though, by opening the pages of “The Lost Astronaut” by Diana Escobar, you can gain some measure of control over Astro’s world and help him find his spaceship.

“The Lost Astronaut” is a clever picture book for children ages 3 to 5 that encourages kids to interact with storytelling in imaginative ways. Each page comes with instructions on what to do to help Astro out of his current predicament. Turning the page, you’ll then see how well what you were instructed to do worked.

There are other interactive picture books out there, from pop-up books and stories that encourage creative movement to touchscreen e-book formats that allow readers to move objects around. What’s unique about this one, though, is the manner in which readers interact with it — through the physical book itself.

A KIND OF META INTERACTIVITY

“The Lost Astronaut” will have your child hugging the book, tilting it to the left or right, touching parts of the illustrations, blowing on its pages and more. With neither paper mechanics nor motion graphics, it is your child’s imagination that will provide the magic. Sometimes what they are instructed to do works and sometimes it requires another try with a different approach. But all approaches are centered around the physicality of the book itself.

There is a playful quality to the narrative that propels it forward with little surprises along the way, and the bold illustrations of the astronaut floating around a starry sky in his spacesuit are simple and straightforward while still conveying emotion — not the least of which is indicated on Astro’s “happiness meter,” which fills up the closer he gets to his spaceship. The reader becomes the hero of the story, eventually getting Astro back on his ship and setting his course to planet Earth. Best of all, your child can delight in saving Astro again and again.

Author Escobar in part describes her book as “a piece of joy into a world submerged in darkness and despair” that “provides scope to the imagination, interacts to a further extension with its readers, and provides satisfaction when completed.”

Whether your little one is fascinated with all things outer space or just enjoys stories with a sense of whimsy, “The Lost Astronaut” takes young readers on a rewarding journey of discovery into the power of books, stories and our own minds.

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