Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 26, 2017.
The CatStronauts are back and...they're kind of bored. And not really doing much besides accepting awards and going to free lunches and dinners held in their honor. But then the CatStronauts are called back into action. It turns out that several other space programs around the world are planning Mars missions, and the CatStronauts are the last ones to get involved. Will they lose to the CosmoCats or one of the other two groups, or will they triumph and be the first cats to land on Mars?
In some ways, this volume felt a little more solid than CatStronauts: Mission Moon. For example, the internal logic was much better. However, it also had less of the first volume’s silly fun, and the competition between the various space programs made things a little more tense overall. Sometimes the cats had to prioritize between their “race to Mars” timeline and the scientific experiments they wanted to do once they got to Mars, because there wasn’t enough time to get everything done. Brockington included some nice visual jokes and random references in the background (I noticed Star Wars, Star Trek, and maybe Teletubbies), but overall this volume didn’t seem quite as light as the first one, even though there was less at stake.
Each space program seemed to be analogous to a real-life space program, although I wasn’t 100% certain about one of them. The CosmoCats were definitely Russian, and the COOKIE mission (quick and inexpensive) appeared to be Indian. I wasn’t sure about the MEOW mission. Maybe German? I came across another reviewer who seemed to think it was a stand-in for Luxembourg.
Much of the volume was devoted to showing the various space programs preparing to go to Mars. Anytime someone decided to remove something from their Mars mission “To Do” list in the interest of saving time, or pushed their employees too hard, I wondered if and when it would come back to bite them. The CosmoCats were presented as villains,
at least at first
. One of the top CosmoCats was especially willing to do whatever he had to in order to be the first to get to Mars, setting a grueling pace for their workers and creating terrible working conditions.
In the end, though, this turned out to be a story about learning to work together.
The supposed villains really weren’t.
I loved seeing Pom Pom and Gemelli bonding over their shared love of science, and it was kind of nice to see that even the oh-so-serious Major Meowser wasn’t infallible. I was also glad that Cat-Stro-Bot got to have a role in this story too, although its part in the story became a little chaotic and confusing near the end.
All in all, the first volume was a little more fun than this one, but this one seemed to be a bit more solid and well-thought-out.
A side note: this volume made me realize that I’d made some character design assumptions that weren’t necessarily true. For example, cats whose eyes were drawn so that they had eyelashes were female, while cats whose eyes were just dots were male, meaning that all the CatStronauts were male. Or so I thought. I don’t know if pronouns were used in the first volume and I just missed them, but the second volume definitely referred to Pom Pom using she/her pronouns.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I usually don't review books for children this young (the book aims at children between the ages of 6 and 8) but when I read
"In space no one can hear you flap"
in combination with penguins, in SPACE I was immediately sold.
I just know I would have loved this book as a child. The story is fun and exciting, the characters remind me a bit of that other famous penguin gang - The Penguins of Madagascar.
I think it's best read as a buddy project between parent and child, as I think the words might be a bit too difficult for even an 8-year-old (but, I'm hardly an expert on the subject as I didn't know any English when I was eight), although there is a glossary for some of the words and also discussion questions. The illustrations really make this book even nicer. I'm a bit older than suggested, but still had a great time reading it. I'll definitely keep this book in mind when looking for a present for a kid.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Every week I use the TBR Thursday to show everyone my newest books and to confront myself with my inability to lower my TBR.
There are, once again, quite some books that made their way to my shelves. Truth be told, I feel like it's not entirely my own fault this week. All new ARCs, but I finally got approved for some books I requested a long time ago, so they hardly really count for this week. I just tell myself this to make me feel better. Next week is the last week of my vacation, so I hope to get some reading done. I'm a bit behind on my ARCs, but it's already better than last week.
TBR pile currently stands at 175. (+5)
(Netgalley ARCs at 58 (+6))
I thought 'Interesting this biography of Ivan Pavlov, I should get it!' This was all before I found out it's 842 pages long! 842! For a biography!
Undertow I luckily got with a different cover, one that looks less like it's going to be a romance. I still hope that it's going to be a good book.
The Secrets of life and death, Seventh Heaven and Children of the tide all sounded very interesting. I'm looking forward to read them.
I was interesting in The Genome, because I know a lot of people who really enjoyed Night Watch so I was very curious about this author.
The Three Body Problem is Chinese SF, that sounded so interesting I now really want to read it.
Space Penguins Galaxy Race is definitely a children's book but it had my at the tagline of 'In space no one can hear you flap'
Last but not least, Life at the speed of light is written by Craig Ventor, of whom I've heard quite a lot in my lessons on the Human Genome Project wrote this book on genomics and I find that as a biomedical scientist an interesting topic.
This used to be one of my favourite albums (namely because it involved Tintin and his friends travelling to the moon) but I am starting to grow a little less fond of the later of Herge's work simply because his earlier works seem to be a lot better, however this does not mean that this (or any of the others) are bad since they are still classic Herge (is anything of Herge's not classic) with his twisted sense of humour (particularly when the Thompson twins are brought into the base dressed in Greek costumes).
This story is about the race to the moon, however it appears that it is only Tintin and his friends who are preparing for the trek. Obviously preparations to send man to the moon took a lot longer than this comic (it was 9 years between when Kennedy said that they plan on putting a man on the moon and when it actually happened – I notice Bush tried to do the same thing with Mars) and I guess that the whole project took about two years (and with the failure of the initial rocket, I suspect that they would actually attempt to build another one rather than going straight to a manned rocket).
Throughout the comic there are references to a foreign power, and while we may think immediately that it is Syldavia's next door neighbour (the entire comic is set in the fictional country of Syldavia) having just reread it I am more convinced that Herge is suggesting that it is the Soviet Union. The cold war was now in full swing, and the United States were beginning to purge their country of suspected communist spies (Reds under the beds). I have also noticed that Tintin's origins are vague as well, as they refer to 'the government' but do not actually suggest which country it is (it is Belgium, and it would have been better, in my books, for them to continue with this, but the editors did not).
Also, I have noticed that Herge drops hints as to who the traitor is going to be (Wolf). We find that out near the end of the second part (Explorers on the Moon), however Herge does his best to be consistent, and to drop hints of the identity of the traitor throughout the albums. We know that there is a double-agent high up in the executive of the base, and when information is passed through to the spies outside the base, we notice that the people who are there are Captain Haddock, the Thompson Twins, and Wolf. Wolf's story sounds very dodgy, and made me realise that it is he who is the traitor (though we do not find that out until a lot later).