Thursday, August 13, 2020

Out of the World

Wooding, Chris. Out of the World
4 August 2020, Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jack has been raised by rather odd parents; they always dress in black tracksuits, move frequently, and require him to know all manner of survival skills. He knows that not all parents are like this, but when he realizes that his parents don't even sleep, his concern grows. He meets Thomas, a nerdy kid, at his school. He doesn't want to be friends, but Thomas stalks him and shows up at his house, poking around in Jack's parents' things. The two accidentally set off a piece of machinery in the attic, and that's when things get even weirder. Soon, a girl on whom Jack has a crush is attacking him, and he's being whisked into space. It turns out that the superspy Gradius Clench looks just like Jack, and this causes all kinds of complications with intergalactic bounty hunters Boston Sark, Mazzy, Dunk, and Ilara. Of course, they've also picked up the annoying Thomas to accompany them on their journey. In between fighting off gorilla-turtle beings, will Jack be able to figure out how he and his "parents" fit into this fantastic world?
Strengths: Space adventures are something for which I am always looking, and this does have a nice ensemble cast of young space adventurers. There's plenty of action and adventure, lots of humorous descriptions of alien characters and situations, and a source of evil against which to fight. This had shades of Kraatz,'s Space Runners: The Moon Platoon, Fry's Jupiter Pirates and Liss' Randoms.
Weaknesses: British parents are routinely described as being very dysfunctional, and although Jack's have an odd reason for this, it is still uncomfortable to read about. Also uncomfortable are the mean descriptions of Thomas as nerdy and unattractive.
What I really think:  This has a fantastic cover, and I loved Wooding's Silver, but this made my brain hurt. The publisher's blurb compares it to Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which I did NOT like, but which some of my students adore. I will probably buy it if I have enough left in the budget. I preferred space adventure like Landers' Blastaway  or Levy's Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy, that were more fun and didn't involve semi-abusive parents.

Disclaimer: I also have not been able to watch the Star Wars movies, except for the one with the teddy bears on mopeds, and I saw that only because friends dragged me to the theater. This is an important thing to know when reading my reviews of science fiction books, I think!

52218626. sx318 sy475 Brinkley, Douglas. American Moonshot Young Readers' Edition: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race 
April 14th 2020 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

NASA and the US space program are a direct result of the increases in aeronautical technology due to World War II, and many of the astronauts began their careers in the military at this time. This books follows the life and career of President John F. Kennedy in tandem with the development of the US space program that led to the first moon shot, sadly, after his death.

The space program was far more political than younger readers may realize, heavily dependent on controversial German scientists like Wernher von Braun, who started out in Nazi rocket development, and motivated by a race with the Soviet Union. Kennedy used the space program in his efforts to win public office, and also to gain funding for US education. If only the public were concerned today that the US was falling behind other countries and needed to catch up!

This is a well-researched book with copious end notes and helpful bibliography. There are a few black and white photographs in the text of the book, and a small section of color ones in the center of the paperback. My only quibble with this book is that the paperback, due to its smaller size, has smaller print than most middle grade readers prefer. The detailed nature of the text would make this a good choice for high school readers as well.

2019, the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing, saw a number of books published, including Brown's graphic novel Rocket to the Moon,  Johnson's autobiography Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson, Michael Collins's Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut's Story, Ashby's biography Rocket Man: The Mercury Adventure of John Glenn and Siegal's 2020 To Fly Among the Stars. This young readers' edition is a good addition to this collection for pleasure reading or research.

No comments:

Post a Comment