Title: Space Detectives
Author: Mark Powers and Dapo Adeola
Genre: Science Fiction, Crime
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Published: 2nd March 2021
Synopsis: Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world’s first orbiting city, Starville (basically Beverley Hills in space!). The amazing space station is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights.
However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery and when they discover the space station is hurtling on a collision course with the moon (eep!) they know they need to step in. This is a case for the SPACE DETECTIVES!
Can Connor and Ethan find the culprit and save Starville from its impending doom?
It’s summer holidays, and best mates, Connor and Ethan are headed to the orbiting city, Starville. They start selling ice cream but can’t resist helping to solve a mystery or two! When the space station begins hurtling towards the moon, Ethan and Connor team up with Edwina, the daughter of the Supreme Governor of Starville, to solve the mystery. At the same time, they must contend with a woman – the governor – hellbent on protecting her reputation and promoting automated, robotic workers over humans – but will this come back to bite her and how will the Space Detectives solve this mystery?
The first in a new series is always fun, because it introduces readers to the characters and establishes the world they live and work in. In kids’ books, this often has to be done quickly, to ensure interest is maintained, and it is done well here, establishing the characters and the setting quickly so readers can dive right into the action and get involved with the story.
When you’re on a space station about to collide with the moon, everything is high stakes, and using tropes from crime, thriller and science fiction, Mark Powers has distilled these into a plot that is exciting but not scary – there are some moments where our heroes face danger but the high stakes, fast paced solutions ensure that these moments are dealt with effectively and keep readers on their toes without being too scary. What Mark Powers and Dapo Adeola have done is to create a convincing world, where kids get to live out their space and crime solving fantasies, whilst creating technology that seems impossible and far away, yet at the same time, could one day be a reality.
The clever use of red herrings and false clues also helps children build an understanding of mystery tropes and problem solving. This allows readers to actively participate in the mystery as they discover the clues at the same time as Ethan and Connor. It is a fun and exciting way to bring some mystery into the lives of younger readers. But you must read the book to find out whodunnit!
This gives the story a sense of grounding and reality, and evokes a sense of wonder as well. In giving the child characters agency, the story also allows younger readers to live in a world (albeit fictional) where they can drive what happens. Written for junior to early middle grade readers, this novel is filled with exciting illustrations and is great for reluctant readers as well as those with an interest in stories set in space. It has a great balance between enough text and illustration on each page to keep all readers engaged and help with literacy and reading comprehension targets. These sorts of books can help build reading and language confidence whilst being entertaining as well.
The start of an exciting new series!