AstroNuts Mission Two: The Water Planet

Chronicle. (AstroNuts: Bk. 2). Aug. 2020. 228p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781452171203.
Gr 4-6–The ragtag AstroNuts crew continue their mission of finding a Goldilocks planet (not too hot, not too cold, but just right) as a new home as Earth becomes more and more polluted. The AstroNuts—AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StingBug—take off in their rocket, the sculpted beak of Thomas Jefferson’s effigy on Mount Rushmore. They crash land on a water planet, get aquatic body enhancements, and tumble from their ship to be greeted by the mayor, a giant clam wearing a top hat and determined to get the AstroNuts to swap Earth for his home planet. The illustrious water planet seems too good to be true and is revealed as such by the leader of an underground clam resistance sect led by Susan B. Clamthony. The AstroNuts must deal with a possible mutiny within their own crew; the fast-talking, smarmy clam mayor; and an upheaval of epic proportions when the resistance emerges from their underground headquarters. Graphs, anatomy charts, and infographics give the pictures and text a tongue-in-cheek gravitas that will have delighted readers returning for more. Weinberg’s use of collage is charming; he superimposes whimsical cartoons onto classical works of art taken from places such as the Rijksmuseum. This reuse of images also helps to underline the heavy ecological messages of the book: reuse and recycle. The author leaves no possible clam pun or wordplay unused, which gets a bit tedious by the conclusion. However, in true Scieszka style, the majority of the book is a joyful exploration of what he does best—make the known seem absurd and the absurd seem perfectly reasonable.
VERDICT A funny, ridiculous journey into space infused with a thoughtful ecological message.

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