Saturday, July 02, 2011

Stink Far Out: Stink: Solar System Superhero by Megan McDonald

Flub! Flop! Flunk!

Stink Moody had to take a test.

A SCIENCE TEST. A SOLAR SYSTEM test! He had to learn all the planets--by tomorrow!

Stink went to find his big sister. He sure hoped Judy wasn't in a mood.

If Judy was in a mood, Stink hoped it was a help-you-little-brother-study-for-his-test mood.

No sweat for Stink. Judy gives him the keyword: PIZZA! "My Very Eccentric Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas," she explains. Each word begins with the first letter of the planets in order outward from the sun, from Mercury to Pluto. "It's a mnemonic device," Dad adds. Stink knows he's going to ace that test!

But when he gets his test paper back, there's a big red X right next to Pluto, while his know-it-all classmate Riley Rottenberger smirks "It's a dwarf planet. Everybody know Pluto isn't a planet anymore," she insists, pointing to her Space Camp t-shirt which says "PLUTO IS DEAD."

To head off a free-for-all argument over the status of Pluto, Stink's teacher takes a vote to see how many classmates are Pluto fans. When a sizable number raise their hands, she wisely declares that there will be a presentation by both camps. Riley, of course, heads the the KPBs (Kick Plutos (er) Behind) team and Stink leads Captain Pluto and the Underdogs. Stink researches the criteria for planetdom and with his "Make Your Own Bumper Sticker" kit, prints out a bunch of magnetic "Honk If You Love Pluto" signs, even affixing one to his teacher's little blue Mini's bumper. Stink's presentation carries the vote, and even Riley admits to feeling a little sorry for poor Pluto, kicked out of his group.

"Any friend of Pluto's is a friend of mine!" Stink says.

There's no better way to introduce a primary science unit on the solar system than with a reading of Megan McDonald's newest addition to the Stink Moody series, Stink: Solar System Superhero (Book #5) (Candlewick, 2010). Younger brother Stink is the perfect foil to moody Judy, ever ebullient and ready to throw himself into any venture headlong, even if it takes him to the darkest reaches of outer space where the dwarf planets dwell. Peter Reynolds' clever line drawings are virtually inseparable from this wonderful series of beginning chapter fiction, and this Stink story is far-out fun.

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