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)