STRANGE ORBIT by Margaret Simpson


Age Range: 11 - 14
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 Jessica Baron is a smart and likeable British teen who leaps at the chance to join the crew of the first children's moon landing. Although Jessica frequently drops Anglicanisms (``beavering,'' ``fifteen stone,'') readers will find it easy to like her excitement and honesty. The entire enterprise, including the financing of the Apollo rocket, is paid for by the wealthy and of course eccentric Lady ``Mad'' Muriel Dumfries, who now wants to see the lunar surface up close. Even though the rest of the youthful crew includes a six-year-old, their preparation is rigorous: This is the most satisfying section of the novel, partly because Simpson has stuffed it full of facts and realistic scenarios drawn from NASA's astronaut training program. The usual last minute glitch threatens to scrap the missionMuriel's daughters try to have her declared crazybut the launch proceeds as planned. No sooner does the Adventurer reach orbit, however, than it's pulled off-course by a black hole, and shot 300 years into the future, to an Earth that has been ravaged by the depletion of its ozone layer. The plot metamorphoses from morality tale to spiritual primer: After travelling to Saturn's moon, Titan, the gang meets Yogi Shantih Baba, who explains that their experience has been a lesson in eternity, and then transports them back through time and space to the Earth's moon. This deus-ex-machina conclusion seems fitting for this unlikely, incredible adventure, which loses its excitement and any realism just when the fun should really begin. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-7914-2629-7
Page count: 221pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995