* “This first volume in a series has humor, adventure, and big appeal…Overall, this blend of rollicking adventure and a splash of science will make this series a hit with young readers.”
—LMC, starred review
The first in the Space Taxi series for emergent readers, this sci-fi adventure introduces an engaging character, Archie Morningstar, and a talking cat sidekick who fights crime. When the action begins, Archie doesn’t know about his father’s secret identity as an intergalactic voyager who, well, pilots a space taxi. Soon Archie himself is being tested as a navigator who can expertly spot wormholes. When a fare turns out to be a wanted criminal, Archie and his dad make the acquaintance of a cat Archie nicknames Pockets in honor of his capacity to stow a tremendous amount of policing gear beneath his fur. In the end, Pockets agrees to come back to Earth with Archie so they can join forces in fighting an evil organization called BURP. The plotting never overdoes it, the surprises are gentle, and the humor is always on target for a young demographic. This reads like the beginning of a story with legs (or perhaps wheels), so prepare your cab fare for future installments.
Mass (Pi in the Sky) and her husband Brawer kick off a lighthearted chapter book series introducing eight-year-old Archie Morningstar. It’s a Take Your Kid to Work Day like no other when Archie discovers that his father’s job as a taxi driver involves picking up fares all around the galaxy. “Top of the line,” brags Archie’s father after his cab sprouts wings and rockets into space. “It only clunks and groans to blend in with regular cabs on Earth.” Archie, it turns out, has inherited a talent as a “space map reader,” and he helps his father guide the cab through a wormhole to an alien world, where Archie meets a talking cat who’s a member of the Intergalactic Security Force and learns about a mysterious criminal organization known as BURP. The emphasis is on out-of-this-world fun, but Mass and Brawer give the Morningstar family a warm, jokey closeness, while also including scientific information (about gravity, wormholes, and exoplanets) that complements the action.
Archie Morningstar has been waiting for “eight years, eight months, and eight days” to ride along with his taxicab-driving father. But when the night finally arrives, the experience proves to be out of this world. Archie had been looking forward to seeing more of the city, but his father is no ordinary cabbie. He drives a space taxi, with fares all over the known universe. Archie serves as his father’s co-pilot for the night, helping him navigate wormholes, avoid asteroid fields and work the taxi’s thrusters. But things get really interesting when Archie meets Intergalactic Security Force deputy Pilarbing Fangorius Catapolitus (aka Pockets), a talking space police cat who can shoot lasers out of his tail. Together, cat and boy take down a dangerous member of the evil organization BURP. Archie can hardly believe his luck when his father agrees not only to allow Pockets to live with them, but to take Archie on as his permanent co-pilot. Zany adventures, a wacky plot and plenty of slapstick humor make this a quick, enjoyable read. Simple illustrations and a trio of scientific definitions add to the narrative. A solid start to a new chapter-book series.
For Book 2 — Space Taxi 2: Water Planet Rescue
Newly recruited Intergalactic Security Force deputy Archie Morningstar prepares for his first mission as co-pilot and navigator aboard his father’s space taxi.
When Pockets, a fellow agent who just happens to be a talking cat, gets the call to investigate a mysterious weather situation on the planet Nautilus, the three fire up the taxi and blast off. However, since Nautilus is a water planet, they will need to make a pit stop at Akbar’s Floating Rest Stop to modify their taxi, pick up some new gadgets and scarf down some bagels. Archie quickly learns that extraterrestrials come in all forms. On Nautilus, those who live under the sea or above water all look decidedly fishy. Unfortunately, something is happening to all the water, putting both civilizations in danger. Archie and his fellow deputies quickly discover that the evil organization B.U.R.P. is to blame—and it is up to them to thwart their plans. With wacky adventure, imaginative settings and wildly varied ETs, this series has endless potential. Archie’s sense of wonder and dedication to his newfound responsibility are inspirational. Line drawings and a trio of science facts further enhance this enjoyable interstellar romp.
Its likable hero is just one reason to love this intergalactic space adventure. (Adventure. 6-9)