Solar System: Our Place in Space

illus. by Jon Chad. 128p. (Science Comics). glossary. First Second. Sept. 2018. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626721418.
OrangeReviewStarGr 3–5—In a rousing effort to cure her sick friend Sara's ennui, if not her cold, Jill fashions an imaginary spaceship, the Unbored, powered by "EnthusiPlasma"; crews it with space-suited versions of their pets; and sends it on a tour of the solar system—"underground oceans, huge storms, giant canyons" and all. Moving from the sun outward, the intrepid (well, mostly) Space Pets land on or fly by each planet (including Earth) and select moons. The onboard AI and Jill's snake, "Science Officer Slithers," deliver quick, accurate facts and "scareinteresting" observations. In his squared-off and inset cartoon panels, Chad mixes images of extraterrestrial wonders with awed or apprehensive reactions from the Space Pets, striking a visual balance between fact and fancy so that the tour never feels like an info dump. Following a suspenseful rescue on Uranus's moon Miranda, the itinerary ends at Pluto with tantalizing glimpses of the Kuiper Belt, the Oort cloud, and the stars and galaxies beyond. Readers who, like Sara, are ready for further exploration will be delighted to find the Unbored's EnthusiPlasma tanks fuller than ever.
VERDICT A story line infused with humor and drama adds particular animation to this entry in the "Science Comics" series; budding astro-tourists in middle elementary grades will happily sign up for repeat journeys.

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