Friday, April 6, 2018

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight by Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer, illustrated by Elise Gravel

[Originally published in June 2014)

I must admit that I've never read any of Wendy Mass' books. I know, I know, she's HUGELY popular and I recommend her books all the time, but that's actually part of the reason - I don't feel a need to read really popular books, as long as I feel comfortable recommending read-alikes. Anyways, I was a little doubtful about this new beginning chapter series she co-wrote. She's tried a lot of different genres with, to judge from the reviews, varying success and I wasn't sure how she'd do with a beginning chapter series.

Archie has been waiting eight years, eight months, and eight days for permission to go with his dad, a taxi driver, on the night shift. But once they set out, he discovers his dad's route is a little unusual - they're driving out to outer space to pick up a fare! Not only that, but turns out Archie has the magic touch to be the new navigator. If that excitement wasn't enough they get  caught up in some galactic intrigue and the story ends with Archie looking forward to a whole new life as navigator and junior space-crime fighter.

This is the introductory book to the series, so it's a lot of set-up and not quite as much plot as I'd hoped for, even in a beginning chapter book. There are a couple inconsistencies in the plot, most notably at the end where Archie cheerfully agrees to dump his entire life for the night-shift, but he's somehow still going to school? However, minor quibbles aside, this is a really fun beginning to what promises to be a decent series. The black and white art is cartoony without being silly and the story has a nice blend of humor, adventure, and surprise. It's also not too urban, which is a consideration for me, since most of my patrons have never seen a taxi.

Verdict: I'm always looking for great new beginning chapter book series and this is a good start. It's got all the elements that will appeal to this age group - humor, something a little quirky, and a plot complex enough to challenge but not enough to be confusing. It's also nice to see a dad featured in a positive way. Recommended.

Revisited: I've used these with great success in book clubs and the whole series continues to be popular. Still a good choice - the latest in the series came out in May, 2017. The original hardcovers are out of print, but they are still available in paperback and prebound.

ISBN: 9780316243193; Published 2014 by Little Brown and Company; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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