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Book Review: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet
By Eleanor Cameron

This is a fun, well-written book with a delightfully, unabashedly far-fetched plot that will appeal to kids, if they aren't too puzzled by the fact that it is so terribly dated now.


For one thing, it is incredibly sexist. I know, people will say, "You can't fault the author for that; she was writing in the 1950s." But I have trouble understanding how someone can be creative enough to imagine two little boys building a spaceworthy rocket out of wood and scrap metal, but not creative enough to imagine that women could be fully rounded human beings? The only woman who's a real character here, though she's peripheral enough, is the mom of one of the boys. The first time we see her, she's darning socks! And near the end of the book, she actually says the alien king's necklace is too good for her because she is a "mere woman." And did you notice that on the mushroom planet, all the inhabitants seem to be guys?


Kids today are a lot more sophisticated than in the 1950s. I can't imagine a 10-year-old reading this without stopping to point out that the whole book is based on a scientific error, because the mushroom planet cannot actually be a planet, seeing as how it orbits the earth. They will also be puzzled by characters saying nobody could ever travel to the moon! But it might be fun for them to see what people thought was impossible before it became reality.


Then there's the sock darning, I'm imagining a conversation sparked by this book:

  • "Mom, what's darning socks?"

  • "Um... I'm not sure exactly. Your grandmother might know. But I think it means fixing the holes in them."

  • "Fixing them? Socks? Really? Why would anyone do that? Why not just go to Target and buy new socks?"

All in all, this is a fun book, but kind of a museum piece.

Comments

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: March 1st, 2016 01:34 am (UTC)
Faded memories

Greetings from a very distant past...CSJH...North Wing...shade cords...
You have come a long way, Miss Petrini. My utmost congratulations to you! Greg Old

Posted by: petrini1 (petrini1)
Posted at: March 1st, 2016 04:49 am (UTC)
Re: Faded memories

Mr. Old! It's wonderful to hear from you. How strange that I now have a son in middle school, about the same age as I was, way back when you were my teacher. What are you doing these days? Where are you located? (I live in Alexandria with my husband and son.) You were by far the best teacher I had at CSJH. Thank you for that. -Cathy

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