I know. That’s not much of a way to start any kind of grown up review of a book. But seriously, if you’re that grown up, you probably shouldn’t be reading middle grade. And it’s all scientifically accurate, too, so get past that and read the book, my friends.
A few months ago, I did a little author talk for Mrs. B’s class on Stuart Gibbs, the author of Spaced Out: Moon Base Alpha, as well as the FunJungle and Spy School series. What an interesting life! And the guy’s got a great blog, too. (http://stuartgibbs.com/blog/) Sure, he spends time promoting his books there, but he also writes about things he cares about. I took a few entries on endangered rhinos and lava tubes in for the kids to read. As with his books, they’re a great combination of funny, quirky, and informative.
The entry on lava tubes brings us to Spaced Out, which is also all of those things—funny, quirky, informative. In addition to a good mystery, you get a lot of cool information about what life would really be like on the moon. Most of it makes living in Iowa look pretty good, to be honest, but it’s super interesting and answers some of those questions you’d have. How do you go to the bathroom? Does anything you eat actually taste good? How would you go to school?
Dashiell Gibson is still stuck at Moon Base Alpha, and although there are really cool things about it, the toilets aren’t one of them. Some of his fellow residents are not much more fun. When someone goes missing, everyone wonders if it’s a repeat of the murder Dash solved in Space Case. Even doing a search on Moon Base Alpha can be a challenge, and oh, there’s also an alien who visits Dash telepathically.
You’d think all of this could push things over to ridiculous, but it worked for me. There’s an unexpected bit of heaviness towards the end on taking care of the planet and war – all of which I agree with — but I’m not sure whether kids would be put off by it or not. They are probably thinking the same thing a lot of the time, so why shouldn’t Dash?
It’s a rare author who can pull off a goofy middle grade-action- adventure-mystery and also manage to broaden your scientific knowledge. Well done, Stuart Gibbs. What’s next?
Spaced Out by Stuart Gibbs