Monday, April 11, 2016

MMGM- Spaced Out

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

25785775Gibbs, Stuart. Spaced Out (Moon Base Alpha #2)
April 5th 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Dashiell has had it with Patton and Lily, the children of the space tourists, but after he gets in an altercation with Patton that involves using the space toilet to defend himself, Dashiell is reprimanded by the base commander, Nina. When Nina goes missing it's a huge mystery. How far can she have gone on the space station? Everyone starts to investigate, and Kira and Dashiell find moon rocks in Nina's room, fueling the idea that she was going to try to sell them for tremendous sums of money. Still, where has she gone? The group goes looking outside the space station to try to find her, a jaunt which almost ends in tragedy because some of the helmets had been damaged by being used to play football! Dashiell has the help of Zan Perfonic, the alien who can "visit" him virtually and who is very handy when she scares Patton by showing him a vision of a terrifying space snake! Eventually, Dashiell is able to put together pieces of the puzzle and locate Nina, and also manages to find out what the evil Sjobergs are trying to do to the space station!

Dashiell is a great middle grade character. He means well and is intelligent, but is also easily frustrated and impulsive. He enjoys being with Kira, who is his age, but is irritated that his parents and the space station fans on earth think that the two should be a couple. He's not thrilled with the food in space, or the close quarters, but seems to get along well enough with his family, including six year old Violet, who is a bit too perky for a tween boy to have to deal with! 

The details about living in space, especially the information from a space safety guide that appear between chapters, are quite good, and the references to science fiction movies and television shows that don't do a good job at depicting the realities of life in space will be very humorous to readers who are familiar with them. The space toilet, and Dashiell's use of it when defending himself, is an exceptionally brilliant inclusion. 

The mystery is a good one, and Dashiell's use of available clues realistic. The interactions of the space crew go against protocol in some instances, but are probably very true to life of any group of people forced to spend extended time together. 

Gibbs is always a pleasure to read. His prose is facile and funny, and my students like his work every bit as much as I do. I love the fact that his series tend to be short enough that all of the books get read (something which just doesn't happen if a series is over about 4 books long), and that the publisher has kept the same style of covers on all of the books. Spaced Out is a great choice for readers who like mysteries, science fiction, or just an amusing read!

25855509Roth, Ruby. The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids
April 5th 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher 

This introductory vegan cookbook aims to involve children in the process of creating their own food, in hopes of getting them to be more interested in the food. There are lots of kid friendly items in this cookbook, from "cheesy sauce" to small sandwiches and snacks featuring fruits and vegetables as well as some exotic things to spread on the fruits or stir into drinks. 

There's lots of information given on the different types of ingredients and why it is important to the planet to make smarter food choices. A lot of this information (as well as the information found on the websites listed) is fairly crucial to the recipes, because starting this book, I couldn't have told you what Bragg Liquid Aminos was, much less what shelf to find it on at the local health food store. 

The fun page layouts will appeal to children, with the vibrant clip art and hand drawn font. This is not in a spiral binding, which will make the book last longer, but also makes it hard to consult when making a recipe. Helpful hint: lay a clear pie plate over the recipe so that the book stays open but you can still read the recipe. 

Parents who are vegans themselves and want to continue the practice with their offspring will find this to be an amusing cookbook to use while trying to convince their children that almond milk and chia seeds constitute pudding. This will last until the children comes in contact with a DelMonte Pudding Cup. Bet those aren't in metal cans will pull tab tops anymore, are they-- a kid could take their fingers right off with one of those. 

*****Warning. Old Person Rant.*******

I prefer my recipes to be separate from page decorations, but I am very clearly not the target demographic for this book! The only thing I tried was the chia pudding, and my entire family thought it looked like... well, use your imagination.

Hipster parents have become my new nemesis. Really? Soaked raw cashews, red bell pepper, nutritional yeast, the aforementioned Bragg's... stuff, lemon and tumeric? Guess what this makes? Guess!

Cheesy sauce. Hahahahahaha. 

No. No, it doesn't. It makes a slimy goop that will stain whatever organic hemp bib your child will immediately regurgitate it onto. 

Feed the kid boxed mac and cheese and let them wear a plastic bib, and you don't have these problems. 

Okay, fine. I could feed my nonexistent grandchildren whole wheat pasta with melted actual cheddar instead of Velveeta. I can go that far. But not ground up raw cashews with weird stuff poured over gluten free ancient grain quinoa "pasta".

Next week: The benefits of double knit polyester! 


  1. The Stuart Gibbs books sound great; the cookbook...not so much. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. Thank you so much for the morning laugh! I have one vegan friend. We don't do dinner very often. I am quite happily a carnivore who is allergic to soy and wheat. So long as I get real protein, and vegetables, I am happy.
    Stuart Gibbs is hit or miss for me, but he sure is popular with my readers. I will definitely get this one.

  3. OK, one of our boys really likes Stuart Gibbs, so I may have to check this out. And this old person agrees with you. We fed our daughter mac and cheese from a box, she wore a plastic bib and is doing fine. (She is now a teenager and has graduated to Ramen Noodles, the boxed mac and cheese of adolescents) Next week: the benefits of cassette tapes!

  4. Spaced Out looks like a fun book to try & I think my students would enjoy it! I think I'll pass on the vegan cookbook, but thanks for writing your review with such a great sense of humor! Had a good laugh over it! Have a terrific week! (BTW Now I'm kind of craving a pudding cup!)

  5. I super love the 'old person rant' - not that I agree with the old bit. :) But I can totally relate.

  6. LOOOOOL. I actually shared that same cookbook a few weeks ago on my blog! I live in one of the most hipster cities in the world, and definitely the most hipster city in Canada, so I knew it was going to be a hit with parents in my community, even if it's not exactly up my alley. I feel the same way about any diet that says "eat this and you'll be healthy, wealthy and wise, eat that and you'll be fat, miserable and dead."

  7. My students love my cooking magazine. Sounds like they'd love these!

  8. Anonymous1:58 PM EDT

    Stuart Gibbs is coming to the store this Friday. I really enjoyed Space Case so will probably pick the sequel up.