After failing to fail his entrance exam, Bob has started school at Astro Elementary, the only school located in the orbit of an outer planet, but there’s just one problem: Bob is very afraid of space. Soon after he starts school, Bob meets Beep, an orphaned alien, and the two become inseparable. When Beep encourages a mishap on a field trip to Pluto, both friends end up in the nurse’s office, where they discover a medicine that makes Bob braver and smarter. But will it help Bob be brave and smart enough to take on a terrifying black hole?
Small illustrations are nestled throughout double-spaced text in this unintimidating 102 page beginning chapter book. Roth deftly blends soft science fiction with silly humor as Bob, a young black boy, speaks to the reader courtesy an epistolary space log approach. Though most of the humor is age appropriate, a few jokes will likely be missed, including references to Charlotte’s Web, Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence equation, and the Pythagorean Theorem. Otherwise, Roth cleverly finds moments to stealthily teach vocabulary in text and in two pages of space facts found in the back matter. Unappealingly, bullying with minimal consequences occurs and Beep speaks broken English. Overall, a fun introduction to science fiction and an accessible new series for newly independent readers.