James Foley, Gastronauts, (S Tinker Inc. #3), Fremantle Press, August 2018, 120 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN
Gastronauts is the third graphic novel in the “S. Tinker Inc.” series by well-known author illustrator, James Foley. It is about a madcap inventor, Sally Tinker, who declares herself to be the “world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve” and her reluctant companion and sidekick named Charli Stevenson, who claims to be “the world’s foremost biologist under the age of 11”.
The storyline proceeds with tongue in cheek humour as Sally undertakes an extraordinary but poorly thought out invention that places her and Charli in grave peril. After Charli and Sally have been shrunk to microscopic size, they are dropped by Igor (Sally’s robot) into a test tube which is accidentally swallowed by Sally’s baby brother, Joe. Thus, ensues a slapstick romp through Joe’s body to evade the destructive smartbots (a Sally invention) and prevent the SmartCHIP (yet another Sally invention) from overtaking the most powerful organ in Joe’s body. In the case of Joe, the most powerful organ turns out to be, not his brain, as previously thought, but his large intestine, giving rise to an abundance of poo and fart jokes and a perturbing turn of events in the storyline.
Gastronauts is a combination of science fiction and comic book slapstick silliness. Beginner readers, aged 6-9 years, will enjoy the fast-paced action, humour and general light-heartedness of the story.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz