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Space Case: Moon Base Alpha, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Space Case is an engaging murder mystery from Stuart Gibbs (Belly Up, Spy School) that's set on the moon in the year 2040 with a 12-year-old boy at the center. There's a dead body, some light toilet humor, the potential perils of space travel, and a couple of low-gravity scuffles. But, overall, this series start is a spirited whodunit that praises scientific research, ethics, clever troubleshooting, outsmarting grown-ups, and brains over brawn, with a particular emphasis on diversity and gender equality.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson, his scientist parents, and his sister, Violet, are among the first inhabitants on Moon Base Alpha, which is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds, until the well-liked Dr. Holtz turns up dead. Problem is, base commander Nina the Machina proclaims the murder an accident and forbids Dashiell or anyone to talk about it or investigate it as otherwise. But with clues mounting and a long list of possible suspects who had a motive, Dashiell can't resist exploring his conspiracy theory. New arrival Kira is in on it, as is a mysterious new friend, Zan Perfonic. Can Dashiell solve the murder mystery and stay out of trouble to avenge Dr. Holtz's death, or will he risk getting shipped back to Earth on the first rocket home?
Is it any good?
Stuart Gibbs' books often follow similar formulas, but they are exceptionally well-written, rewarding reads -- and SPACE CASE is no different. It even ups the ante with a heavily researched and imaginative setting: the first human outpost on the moon, inhabited by a team of scientists and their families acting as researchers and willing guinea pigs. The same fast pace, clever quips, and twists and turns are here, but Gibbs takes extra care to paint a picture of equally talented men and women, with girl hackers, racially diverse scientists, and kids often taken as seriously as adults, all done in a matter-of-fact way that feels natural.
Overall, it's a fun read that manages to have it both ways. It praises smarts and education and still has a lot of action-packed, suspense-filled fun. There's a murder, a dead body, and a few scuffles as well as Gibb's trademark teen-boy toilet humor, but nothing is explicit or disturbing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about space travel. Would you live on the moon if you could? Why, or why not?
Do you think the book portrays alien life forms realistically? Why, or why not?
Things are very diverse and equal on the space colony. How about your school? What grade would you get for diversity and gender equality?
- Author: Stuart Gibbs
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: September 16, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.