Friday, 30 October 2009

Astrosaurs: Megabookasaurus! by Steve Cole

September 2009, Red Fox
224 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, 7+

Cushions: 3
Smiles: 5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥

(In my version the two circles on the cover are yellow, not blue)

In this omnibus there are three stories involving Captain Teggs Stegosaur, First Officer Arx Orano, Communications Officer Gipsy Saurine and Chief Engineer Iggy Tooth. These astrosaurs are the crew of the DSS Sauropod, a ship in the shape of the egg which undergoes missions throughout the Jurassic Quadrant. This region of space is divided into the Vegetarian Sector and the Carnivore Sector, which are separated by a neutral area of space known as Vegmeat Zone. (Needless to say I love the concept of all of this - there's heaps of scope for many books in the future).

These astrosaurs have graduated from the Astrosaur Academy. I doubt the academy's lessons could have prepared them for saving eggs from greedy, egg hungry oviraptors (The Hatching Horror), scrawny, evil-scientist type carnivores who swap bodies with Teggs and Arx (The Mind-Swap Menace) or figure out how to literally get them out of hot water when T-Rexes believe they are thieves (Teeth of the T.Rex).

I believe this is a brilliant introduction to science fiction for children. It engages the reader in mild peril (always with a happy ending - for the good guys), distant planets, strange objects in space (a planet which is actually a giant egg), different species (not that they are truly alien - they did originate from Earth at some point in history), spaceships (which are always cool) and a lot of humour. Having read one book involving students from the Astrosaurs Academy, it is fun to learn the career path they could follow after their education.

This book is crammed with lots of illustrations. The bonus part is that there are four cards at the back, with information about astrosaurs on them, as well as an in depth history fact-file on the crew at the back. I had no idea one of them is several hundred years old.

I have one small comment: the third story, Teeth of the T.Rex is significantly shorter than the other two. I had expected all three to be roughly the same length. The length doesn't detract from the story. I loved the idea of the alarm dinosaur, whose soul purpose is to alert the crew if something goes wrong. Although I do wonder what would happen if it suffered a cold...

I for one look forward to reading more adventures about the DSS Sauropod crew.

Like this? Try reading about Teggs's student years at the Academy in Astrosaur Academy: Deadly Drama! also by Steve Cole