Dr. Cosmic takes his students on an underwater adventure using a specially designed underwater vehicle he calls a SKWID.
McElligott explores the ocean depths in this fourth title in the Mad Scientist Academy series, STEM-friendly science fantasies reminiscent of Ms. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus trips but with less text and a more modern approach. Sequential panels and occasional full-page illustrations, done with ink, pencil, and digital techniques, show red-haired, green-skinned Dr. Cosmic and his species-diverse students: a robot with pageboy hair, a bat-winged vampire, a zombie, a wolflike creature, something reptilian, and something faintly insectoid, characters first introduced in The Dinosaur Disaster (2015). His new assistant, Professor Fathom, is a dark-skinned mermaid with long black hair. Using student questions and an intriguing gadget they call a handbook that unfolds to offer encyclopedialike fast facts and interesting details, the author smoothly weaves solid information into his narrative. He describes sonar and echolocation; how animals get oxygen; food energy, producers and consumers, and the food web; phyto- and zooplankton; toothed and baleen whales; sperm whales and squid. There’s even a reminder of the need for a clean-energy source for their vehicle: Its biofuel is made from seaweed. All these concepts become part of the story, making this tale a surprisingly well-constructed teaching vehicle. Endpaper sketches detail Dr. Cosmic’s latest inventions.
Information and entertainment in an appealing comic format. (more ocean organisms) (Graphic science fantasy. 6-9)