by Jon Scieszka ; illus by Steven Weinberg
220 pages; ages 8-12
Chronicle Books, 2019
If you’re looking for a funny, smart book that combines climate change with a zany space adventure, then look no further. AstroNuts begins with a count-down to an emergency blast-off. Emergency, because “humans finally crossed a BIG RED LINE – putting more than 400 ppm (parts per million) of CO-2 (carbon dioxide) into my beautiful atmosphere.”
Yep, the story is told by planet Earth, and boy does Earth have a story to tell. It’s about four super-powered animal astronauts who launch into space to search for a Goldilocks planet. You know… not too hot, not too cold, juuuust right! ”Like I used to be,” says Earth. “Before you got here.”
Need a quick lesson on climate change and why 400 ppm is so important? Read this and this.
So, our mutant heroes arrive at a planet full of plants. No dangerous animals, but… viney vines wind around the rocket. Alas, our trusty Astronuts are captured by intelligent vegetation and imprisoned in a plant cell (complete with a
Will they escape? Will they go on another mission? Will they find a Goldilocks planet before we humans set off a huge extinction brought on by our inability to moderate our addiction to fossil fuels?
|And now, a word from our sponsor - Earth.|
What I like about this book: I love the point-of view. I love the occasional astronaut reports, the glitch computer, and “Official NNASA transcripts”. The illustrations are fun, the presentation combines elements of comics, and there’s a bit of atmospheric chemistry tossed in. Plus I love the way the Astronuts harness the golgi apparatus and a bunch of mitochondria to escape the plant cell. There are plenty of space references some readers will appreciate and new words, such as “snotrocketing” (verb). And no, it’s not in the glossary.
There’s also a couple pages at the back of the book that describe how the collage illustrations were created. And a challenge for readers to create their own collage artwork, along with a link to an Astronut website where you can download some helpful printouts.
Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.