Pamela Freeman (text), Yvonne Low (illus.), The Fastest Ship in Space, Second Look Publishing, 29 June 2018, 126pp., $15.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780994528063
A space adventure where living in space is the norm for many children.
Katie and her brother Sam are highly trained in technology and space travel but have always been enclosed in space structures, never knowing the awesome feeling of freedom beneath a blue sky or the pleasure of breathing the scents of nature.
Unwilling to let their grandmother leave them to return to Earth, maybe never to see each other again, Katie and Sam are accidently zoomed away to the moon, on the fastest ship in space. Getting to where you want to be is not easy in space. With so much impacting on their return to their parents, including space station security, smugglers and space pirates, Katie, Sam and their grandmother have to put all their training into action or they may never return to their home ship, or even make it to Earth.
What I really enjoyed about The Fastest Ship in Space were the feelings evoked by the children never having experienced the openness of living on Earth, being able to freely look up and see wide expanses of sky and landscape. I saw Earth in all its beauty through the eyes of a child’s nervousness about experiencing Earth for the first time. It is truly amazing how we take the open expanse of sky and the vivid colours of nature for granted.This book sends us a positive message about looking after our world so our children don’t lose the honour of living in a natural environment.
Pamela Freeman is an award-winning Australian author of books for both adults and children. I adored her Princess Betony series but this story did not quite hit the spot for me. It felt too contrived and disjointed in the telling. To make an enjoyable read for the target audience, all of the characters, including the secondary characters, could have used some more relationship development woven into the story. However, the settings were well constructed and I could definitely feel the closeness of living in space and the pressure on absolutely everyone, adults and children, to follow protocol for survival.
Yvonne Low’s internal illustrations are enjoyable to examine in detail, excellently represented in black and white, but I feel that the cover illustration has been done an injustice by the difficult to read font, making it seem amateurish. Unfortunately, the internal design by Authors’ Elves, is letting the book down too. The text is too tight for the target audience of early readers and the page number font difficult to read. These issues will be what cause book browsers, looking for inspiration, to pass this book by.
I hope to see readers 8 yrs+ enjoying this book and getting the same sense of wonder that Katie does about living on our planet.
Reviewed by Sharon Smith