SILVER SPRING, Md, January 25, 2013 – Mousetronaut: A Partially True Story by Mark Kelly, illustrated by C. F. Payne ISBN: 9781442458246
Meteor dreams of going to space, but the other mice know Meteor will not be chosen for the mission. However, Meteor caught the eye of the shuttle commander, and when the time comes, Meteor is chosen. While the other five mice are nervous about the countdown, Meteor is not. The other mice are scared of weightlessness, but Meteor loves it. Meteor is taken from his cage and given a tour of the shuttle. Meteor wants to help, but there is nothing for him to do until the key to the control panel gets stuck between the monitors.
The space between the monitors is too small for the astronauts to get their hands into and the key is deep to reach with any tool they have. Because Meteor is so small, he is able to fit into the crack and retrieve the key. When the shuttle returns to Earth, Meteor is declared a hero and given his own uniform and the title Moustronaut.
The commander exclaims, “He’s saved the mission!” but the mission never really felt threatened, so the rescue feels anti-climatic, and for a 40 page picture book, it really does not feel like anything happens.
The artwork is nothing spectacular. While the illustrator uses a more realistic style, the colors seem drab. Meteor is the only dynamically drawn character in the book, and he seems underrepresented across the pages given that he is the main character.
If the name Mark Kelly seems familiar, it is because the last two years has seen him in the news more than the average astronaut. While he was the commander of the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, he probably would have passed under the radar if it was not for the attempted assassination of his wife, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Since then Captain Kelly has been in and out of the media. Given the name recognition that Mark Kelly has, this book seems like it is designed to introduce the character of Meteor for an ongoing series of books.
As the subtitle suggests, the story is loosely based on an actually mouse that was on a mission commanded by the author. The story tries to reach the themes that just because others do not think you can achieve your dreams, does not mean that you will not and that little guys can be just as important as those who are bigger and stronger. However, the underdeveloped story does not serve the intended message well.
Despite the weak story, this book would still be good for space-crazy kids, especially those who dream of reaching the stars in a rocket.
Published by Simon & Shuster, Mousetronaut is available in hardcover or ebook.
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