Mousetronaut by M. Kelly
Kelly, Mark. Mousetronaut. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.
Several mice are training hard in the hope of being chosen to take part in a NASA space flight. Meteor the Mouse is much smaller than the others, but his hard work is recognized by the Shuttle Commander who chooses him as one of the six lucky mice to board the shuttle! Only Meteor adapts well to zero-gravity. He saves the mission when, because of his small size, he is able to rescue the key to the control panel when it gets stuck between two monitors.
While kind of cute, especially when you learn the story is loosely based on a real mouse, I was left underwhelmed. It is a picture book, so the story is very short and more suited to the younger children in the recommended age range of 4-8. There’s no mention of why the mice were taken to space in the first place. While the story has a somewhat positive message in that sometimes the underdog can save the day, it wasn’t the fact that Meteor was a hard worker that led to his success but merely the fact that he was small.
The illustrations by C.F. Payne vary in their appeal. The images of the space shuttle at lift-off and the astronauts floating in their spacesuits have an authentic feel, and the facial expressions of the mice in space are priceless. The human faces, however, are more like caricatures for an older audience with their sometimes oddly shaped faces and exaggerated noses. It was great to see a female among the astronauts, but the use of shading made her look as though she had as much five o’clock shadow as the men.
The best part of the work is the afterword where the author, a retired astronaut, shares facts about the NASA program and life in space. Kids will learn some fun details, like that astronauts have to swallow their toothpaste! There is a list of recommended reading for further information, as well as a list of websites with videos or interactive games. This was the first installment of what might become a series of adventures (Mousetronaut Goes to Mars was released October 2013) so one hopes for more riveting plots in the further stories.
Recommended with Reservations - 2 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Trish Chatterley
Trish is a Public Services Librarian for the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library at the University of Alberta. In her free time she enjoys dancing, gardening, and reading books of all types.