Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2015 Contenders: Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight, by Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer

Today, Archie Morningstar turns eight years, eight months, and eight days old. It's also Take Your Kid to Work Day, and Archie is finally old enough to ride along with his father, a night shift taxi driver. Archie is very excited, but -- as the title of the book makes clear -- his father isn't an ordinary driver, and his vehicle isn't an ordinary taxi.

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight is billed as the first in a new series, and its thin plot is largely setup for the forthcoming installments. It was fun and offbeat, in a Daniel Pinkwater-lite for second graders kind of way, and I enjoyed the time I spent with it. It felt like the book would be an easy sell to a certain brand of reluctant reader, and that's always nice to see. I also liked the surprisingly prosaic use to which the mysterious item that Archie's grandfather gave him is put.

The novel doesn't excel in any of the Newbery criteria, however -- even compared only to some of the more "pop" books we've covered this year, the characters and setting are only loosely developed, and don't measure up to Nanny X or The Vanishing Coin. Space Taxi is pleasant, and I can see the series developing a real following, but it's not going to be a serious contender for any of the ALSC awards.

Published in April by Little, Brown Books