Science Comics: Solar System: Our Place in Space
A rare misfire for the Science Comics series, Science Comics: Solar System: Our Place in Space goes past educational to sound patronizing. For a book aimed at ages 9-13, the tone is too “kiddy”, and the lessons are presented too blatantly. As written by Rosemary Mosco and illustrated by Jon Chad (who previously authored Science Comics: Volcanoes), it just doesn’t live up to the high standards set by the other books in the line, which are both informative and entertaining.
Sara is stuck home with a cold and bored. Her friend Jill comes over to fight her boredom by telling her about the solar system through an imaginary spaceship journey. The ship will only be able to travel if Sara is interested in what they find.
They decide the crew will be their pets, a dog (who acts as captain), a cat (who acts like a cat), a hamster (who’s drawn super-huge to match the others), and a snake (who lectures everyone about each new planet). The scale of the hamster never fit into the rest of the art for me, and I was distracted by wondering why some of the animals are animals (the cat doesn’t speak) and some more humanoid.
The tone is off throughout. We’re constantly told what we can see, and each planet visit ends with a summary report telling us what we’ve just read. The continuing emphasis on how this is all imaginary drew me out of the story, and except for the scaredy-cat hamster, all the animals’ voices sound the same, along with a lecture-y super-computer. It’s hard to write for kids, and this book falls into the common trap of writing down much more than needed, particularly for a tween age group.
With previous Science Comics, I’ve always learned a great deal. This one kept telling me things I already knew. Perhaps trying to cover eight planets plus the sun in one book meant the content had to be more superficial for each one. I’d like to have seen on the page more of the wonders we’re told about and less of the cartoon animal crew. As it is, I found myself flipping pages until it was over, having lost interest before the end, a rarity in this series.
Science Comics: Solar System: Our Place in Space is due out September 18 in both paperback and hardcover editions. It can be preordered now from your local comic shop with Diamond code JUL18 1925 (paperback) or JUL18 1926 (hardcover). (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)