Here’s hoping the next installment has the depth and creativity science fiction should deliver.

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TOO MUCH SPACE!

From the Beep and Bob series , Vol. 1

Bob, a human boy, and Beep, an ET, have adventures in space.

After answering a multiple-choice test solely with “C,” Bob accidentally receives the highest test score on the planet and is invited to Astro Elementary, a school in space—which, according to Bob, is “THE MOST TERRIFYING PLACE EVER!” The spot illustrations (credited by narrator Bob to Beep) portray Bob and the other human characters as light-skinned, including Bob’s female classmate Lani—whom he appears to like, though he won’t admit it. (On the cover, he appears to have light brown skin, however.) When he answers a knock at the airlock door, Bob finds Beep, an extraterrestrial separated from his family, who adopts Bob as his “Bob-mother.” Bob chronicles their adventures as “splogs” addressed to the Kids of the Past; the first is a field trip to Pluto. When Bob foolishly gets his tongue stuck on the dwarf planet’s surface, he’s saved by Lani’s quick thinking, even as she laments the foolishness of “Boys.” Similarly shallow and ridiculous high jinks take up the remainder of the book. While the episodic plot and minimal science could be forgiven given the early-chapter-book audience, the fact that the future—and space—holds the same gender assumptions that plague the here and now is more than unfortunate.

Here’s hoping the next installment has the depth and creativity science fiction should deliver. (Science fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8853-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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