Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos is the heartrending and hopeful story of Nova, a young nonverbal girl who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder and is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Nova and her sister, Bridget, are extremely close and share a love of space exploration, the one thing that gives them hope while moving between foster families. Bridget is the one person who knows how intelligent and special Nova is, and can understand what Nova's trying to say when she doesn't know how to express herself.
When Nova is placed with a new foster family without Bridget, she doesn't know how people will understand her without her sister explaining to people that "she's a thinker, not a talker". But as Nova starts to make friends in her new class and her foster family begins to see all of her potential, she continues to countdown the days until the Challenger launch--the day Bridget promised she wouldn't miss, no matter what.
I absolutely loved this book! I really enjoyed getting to experience the book through Nova's eyes and how she perceives the world around her. As someone who doesn't know what it's like to be nonverbal or have a sensory disorder, it was very eye-opening to read descriptions of what Nova felt when she became overstimulated or frustrated that someone didn't understand her. It was a beautiful story that was heartbreaking at times, but I continued to cheer for Nova and her strong spirit throughout the entire story.
Planet Earth is Blue is a 2019-2020 Sunshine State Young Reader Award recipient for grades 3-5. It is available in our catalog as a print book or through Overdrive as a downloadable ebook and audiobook.