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AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet:…
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AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet: (Children’s Environment Books, Unique Children’s Series, Children’s Action and Adventure Graphic Novels, Emergent Readers Chapter Books) (edition 2019)

by Jon Scieszka (Author)

Series: AstroNuts (1)

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793344,783 (4.2)None
Carbon dioxide is out of control on Earth, and the fate of humankind rests in the paws of four experimental, untested Animal Astronauts (AlphaWolf, SmartHawk, LaserShark, and StinkBug) who are seeking another habitable planet; first destination is the Plant Planet which at first looks perfect, except that the abundant plant life can think for itself--and it thinks that it really does not like the AstroNuts.… (more)
Member:OHanlon2008
Title:AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet: (Children’s Environment Books, Unique Children’s Series, Children’s Action and Adventure Graphic Novels, Emergent Readers Chapter Books)
Authors:Jon Scieszka (Author)
Info:Chronicle Books (2019), Edition: Illustrated, 220 pages
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The Plant Planet by Jon Scieszka

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This is one of those books that left me cold but which might be a hit with kids. Maybe. I'm not sure.

The story begins with four creatures - AlphaWolf, SmartHawk, LaserShark, and StinkBug - being shot into space in the Thomas Jefferson nose rocket (from Mount Rushmore) which is also the secret NNASA headquarters.

Confused? Luckily Planet Earth is here to explain. According to Earth, in 1988 a top-secret, emergency mission was put in place with four superpowered animal astronauts, just in case humans ever catastrophically destroyed Earth. Which they have done. So the animals are off to find another planet habitable by humans.

The AstroNuts, guided by a somewhat glitchy 1988 computer, Command Escape, are off on their mission to find the Goldilocks Planet without destroying any existing life. Their first mission happens on Planet Plant, which, as you might guess from the name, is inhabited entirely by plants. Their adventures and escapades are interspersed with explanations of climate change by Planet Earth, science facts about plants, and why it's bad for a planet to have one life form that overpowers all other life forms. There's also lots of explosions, shooting lasers, eating exciting salads, and fart jokes.

The art is collages made from art from the Rijksmuseum, cut, pasted, and colored. There's two pages of back matter explaining how to collage and create art with free from this and other museums. The pages are busy with villainous plants, colored engravings, equations, collage creatures with sketched-in eyes and appendages, cut-out words, and speech bubbles.

I found this book to be... kind of a mess. There are multiple things going on, lots of yelling, explosions, chunks of collage everywhere, and it mostly just gave me a headache. I also thought there were some significant issues with the premise - why are they looking for another planet to ruin? How are they defining "intelligent" life? The plants are shown as the "bad guys" but the AstroNuts were destroying them and their home. I thought there were some gender stereotypes in there too. AlphaWolf is portrayed as a stupid jock, but he's still the "leader" while LaserShark is overly sweet, naive, and of course she is charge of housekeeping and feeding everyone.

On the other hand, there's definitely a lot of humor kids will enjoy in this and I can certainly see Bad Guys fans picking it up. But will they keep reading? It's much more challenging than a beginning chapter book, considering all the science that's included, and the very busy pages. I think I'd consider this a lower middle grade title, probably just right for fluent 2nd grade readers up to struggling 5th grade readers.

Verdict: I'm just not sure about this one. It's got universally positive reviews, but I feel like that might be a combination of the currency of the topic and the cachet of the Scieszka name. But I could be wrong! This could be extremely popular! I will have to test it on kids in book club to be sure. To be continued...

ISBN: 9781452171197; Published September 2019 by Chronicle; Borrowed from another library in my consortium
  JeanLittleLibrary | Nov 3, 2019 |
  Tasses | Sep 19, 2019 |
Quirky, chaotic humor mingles witch a dab of science to create an unique space adventure.

The astronuts are a very, very, very well kept secret of the NNASA (Not-NASA) and are kept hidden in a nose on Mount Rushmore. When the Earth has reached its limits thanks to global warning, these four very strange and unique creatures are sent into space on a mission to find a new home for humans. They have two weeks, which might seem tight, but they run into a possible planet right away. However, things may not be as friendly as they seem on this planet.

There isn't much of an introduction in this book. Rather, the adventure begins right away as the four astronuts launch from a stone nose into space on their mission to save the world. Information surrounding these creatures is kept very skim and only dribbled in as needed...which causes a little confusion but, on the other hand keeps action high for those with very short attention spans.

The entire book has the atmosphere of a comic explosion gone madly array. There is a plot. Of sorts, but humor is kept on center stage. Quirky humor, which bounces all over the place. There might be 220 pages, but by no means is this a heavy read. The text is sometimes more, sometimes almost non-existent. In any case, reluctant readers won't be scared away. It's the type of humor which is going to determine if a reader enjoys this one or not. I don't think it's for everybody, but those kids who do find it funny will be laughing their heads off.

The illustrations are bright and bold and carry the same quirky, over-the-top feel as the rest of the book. It's definitely never boring. As an extra side-note, the illustrator explains on the very last pages how he used real works found in museums and such to piece together some of the scenes in a collage. It's definitely an extra tidbit for art lovers.

Lastly, this is a book on a mission. The entire story evolves around the basic theory that the Earth has been ruined by man's pollution. Global warming hits front and center, and is presented through a moment of a bit more scientific explanation...or in that direction. The basics of what a planet requires to ensure life as we know it exists also runs along with the tale, giving kids a deeper insight on that end of things. So yes, there is science as well or, at least, something in that direction.

In any case, this is an unique read which is great for reluctant readers who enjoy quirky humor and an exciting, never-ever boring, space adventure.

I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed it enough to want to leave my honest thoughts. I found this one a little difficult to rate, since it seriously needs to hit the right reader. Some will love it. Others won't. But it's definitely an adventure one doesn't see everyday. ( )
  tdrecker | Sep 11, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jon Scieszkaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Weinberg, StevenIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed

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Carbon dioxide is out of control on Earth, and the fate of humankind rests in the paws of four experimental, untested Animal Astronauts (AlphaWolf, SmartHawk, LaserShark, and StinkBug) who are seeking another habitable planet; first destination is the Plant Planet which at first looks perfect, except that the abundant plant life can think for itself--and it thinks that it really does not like the AstroNuts.

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