The diverse young monsters of the Mad Scientist Academy take a whirlwind tour of the solar system thanks to an unusually realistic planetarium.
In what amounts to an updated Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System (1990), orange-haired, green-skinned Dr. Cosmic, hanging from an orrery on the ceiling, lectures on the orbits and relative distances of the eight planets. He then issues anti-gravity belts and leads the students to a planetarium that (seemingly) whisks them off to Mars before departing on an errand. Cue the computer gone haywire, which transports the class to three more un-Earthly locales: Saturn’s clouds; a Jovian moon; and a comet blasting out a tail. Being more serious-minded sorts than Ms. Frizzle’s coterie, the students exchange informational observations rather than jokes while rescuing one another from various pickles. Along with tucking in frequent factual asides about planetary conditions and other astronomical topics, McElligott closes with a summary infographic. Still, his large panels of comic art are well-stocked with sound effects and whooping alarms, sudden changes in setting, and bodies flying every which way. Rescue comes at last as the virtual blasts within the planetarium are capped by an actual one that lets in the sunlight.
Young readers can only hope for this much excitement on their real field trips. (Graphic informational fantasy. 7-9)