Cover note: The whole point to the book is that the Mushroom people are NOT GREEN.
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet is a book that seems to have stuck with people if somewhat vaguely.
But I stumbled across a copy and reread it, so let me describe it before it goes vague again.
1) Plot: Kids fly their homemade rocket to an invisible moon between the Earth and the Moon.
2) Oddly, fairly little of the book actually takes place on the Mushroom Planet. They blast off from Earth on page 67 and then head back to earth on page 118, with more than 50 pages left to go.
3) Written in 1954 by Eleanor Cameron, the book reminded me of …. Gail Gauthier’s wacky alien books. Why? Because Eleanor very lovingly wrote this book for her son to enjoy. He’s the star, gets his wishes fulfilled, saves an entire race from extinction, etc…, but she’s a character, too, and it’s all very domestic. In the same way, Gauthier wrote a book about her boys, but made herself a character, too. (Battle of the moms: I’ve got to go with Gauthier, she can build a rope ladder after all.)
4) This book is, perhaps, more fantasy than science-fiction. Kids building a rocket ship out of scraps and flying it could maybe, maybe be sci-fi. But she has certain fantasy elements, such as the ship being almost magically built and seeming to magically grow bigger. And then there’s the magical Mr. Bass who puts the kids up to it because he seems to magically know that the mushroom people are in trouble. And then there are the many, many times when she ignores science all-together.
As one of her main characters says:
“It was all too … too unbelievable.”
5) My theory: Cameron was more familiar with the Wizard of Oz, Dr. Doolittle and such than sci-fi. (A sub-plot involving a chicken really reminded me of OZ.)
6) Reading this book shows one how far science, science fiction, zoning laws, parenting and snack foods have come in the last 54 years. Can you imagine a kid of 2008 who’s taking off in a home-made rocket ship thinking, “I’ll take along some hard-boiled eggs.”
Filed under: kidlit, sci fi for kids