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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
This was the first science fiction book I ever read, I found it in the public library when I was 12 years old, was intrigued by the title and took it home to read. I enjoyed it immensely and went on to devour Heinlein's other kid's classic, "Podkayne of Mars" which I thought was equally wonderful.
Thirty-five years later, Kip, Peewee and the Mother...
Published on March 28, 1999 by Rissa

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to rate; a friend from my childhood
I read this novel during a long, boring summer between 6th and 7th grade. It made quite an impression on me at the time, and stoked my interest in math and science. (In fact I got my first A in math probably from the motivation derived from this book.) There is no getting away from the fact that this novel is aimed at pre-teenagers and mostly hits the mark. The...
Published on May 22, 2011 by Roger J. Buffington


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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book, March 28, 1999
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This was the first science fiction book I ever read, I found it in the public library when I was 12 years old, was intrigued by the title and took it home to read. I enjoyed it immensely and went on to devour Heinlein's other kid's classic, "Podkayne of Mars" which I thought was equally wonderful.
Thirty-five years later, Kip, Peewee and the Mother Thing have lost none of their charm. What I found most interesting about this book, however, was how very much things have changed since this it was first published: the story begins with Kip's attempting to win first prize in a soap slogan contest (he sends in 5,000+ entries) the grand prize for which is a trip to the moon. He doesn't win the trip but he does win Oscar-the-Traveling-Spacesuit, which turns out to be the best prize after all. Back to the contest: Kip can send in the actual contest form included with each bar of soap or he can send in a "reasonable facsimile." He entertains the idea of photographing the form 5,000 times before deciding that's impractical, so he settles instead for collecting the forms from the people who have bought the soap. I kept thinking, so why doesn't he just use the photocopier when it occured to me there weren't any photocopiers when this book was written. There weren't any intergrated circuits either, never mind microprocessors, which would have been necessary to achieve colonization of the moon in the first place. I also found it interesting that although when Kip graduates from high school he is reasonably well-educated in sciences and math (thanks to self-teaching -- and a diatribe from Heinlein on what he considers to be the sorry state of 1950's high school education) because he doesn't get a scholarship, he is faced with having to work while attending the local (read mediocre) state college. This book predates the arrival of college loans and grants as well.
I did like the fact that the other main character in this book is a girl -- it was good of Heinlein to provide his readers such an intelligent and resourceful role model.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Fooled By The Intended Age..., October 21, 2000
By 
This book is good reading for anyone. I reccommend it especially to young science fiction fans, or younger readers who want a good first taste of sci-fi. However, this book is excellent no matter who you are. I am an experienced science fiction reader, and I put this book right up there with anything else by Heinlein. Sure, it doesn't have the free love bits and controversial stuff of RAH's later works, but that's not why you started reading Heinlein in the first place anyway, is it?
This book is a science fiction classic, period.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A showcase of Heinlein's storytelling prowess, February 13, 2002
Have Space Suit--Will Travel represents Heinlein at his storytelling best. Free of the esoteric themes that would appear in his later writings, this book is pure science fiction seemingly written solely for the enjoyment of the reader. Originally published in 1958, the story stands up well even today and will surely be read and enjoyed by untold generations to come. I am sure that many a young person read this book and yearned to reach the moon in the decade before the Eagle finally landed.
This is generally classified as one of Heinlein's juvenile books, but Heinlein's writing is for all ages. I am sure the book appeals to many young people because its protagonists are themselves young people: Kip is a high school senior, and Peewee is a girl of about twelve. Kip develops an overpowering urge to go to the moon, and he is lucky enough to win a real space suit in a contest. Heinlein's description of the many different features of the suit is fascinating. Resigning himself to selling the suit for college tuition money, Kip goes for one last walk; somewhat playfully calling out on the radio, he is surprised to hear an answer to his call. He is amazed when a space ship soon lands in his backyard and a decidedly alien creature comes out and collapses. A second ship lands, an entity gets out and conks Kip on the head, and the next thing Kip knows he is trapped inside a space ship on his way to the moon, suddenly in the company of a little girl. His captors are "Wormfaces," a species of alien that has been in hiding on the moon, looking at the earth with evil intentions. Peewee introduces Kip to the "Mother thing," a Vegan entity (and interstellar policeman) who radiates love and warmth, effectively communicates with the pair in a bird song type of speech, and inspires undying love and devotion. The book revolves around the youngsters' attempt to rescue the Mother Thing from the Wormfaces and eventually return to earth. Along the way, they endure captivity on Pluto, stare death in the face a few times, and ultimately find themselves representing Earth in an interstellar courtroom, the very future of earth shakily balanced in their own young hands.
There are juvenile elements here, such as Kip's tendency to hold back-and-forth conversations with his space suit (whom he dubs "Oscar"), but Robert Heinlein does throw in several sections full of mathematical formulas, high-level theorizing, and advanced scientific concepts. I dare say that these areas of tecnospeak will turn off some young readers and may well stymie a good number of adults. Aside from the mathematics of the thing, Heinlein can make any kind of scientific notion sound feasible and believable, and that is part of his magic and effectiveness. Most of all, though, Heinlein presents vividly real characters doing exceedingly interesting, heroic things. Heinlein's couple of technical forays may be literary speedbumps, but young readers will revel in and be inspired by this book. Adults who have not yet lost all of their imagination will also relate to the main characters well and delight in a good story line which takes the reader from the earth to the moon to Pluto to another galaxy and back again.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic young-adult book good enough for adults!, January 17, 1997
By A Customer
When I was in 4th grade the librarian noticed that when our class made it's weekly visit to the library I absolutely refused to check out a fiction book. One day she took me to a section I'd never noticed before, where little spaceships with a stylized atom orbit were on the spine of each book. She pulled one down and said "I think you might like this." That book was "Have SpaceSuit -- Will Travel" and to this day I wish I could thank her for what she did.
HSWT was the first fiction I had ever seen (at the advanced age of 9) which was not of the "see Spot run" variety. The hero, Kip, is a normal kid a few years older than I was at the time, who has willingly learned latin and french, can do math, has read history, and desperately wants to go to space. He's not a genius, just a normal, smart kid.
While walking in his back yard one night pretending to be on the moon he accidentally contacts (via radio) a spacecraft in earth orbit. The spacecraft (to his utter surprise) then lands almost on top of him. Kip meets Pee-Wee, a 9 year old girl smarter than him, the Mother-Thing, and Wormface. He gets to travel to Luna and the Magellanic Cloud and save the earth. This book has everything young people should be exposed to: action, intelligence, a non-condescending authorial voice and, MOST importantly, STRONG moral values, such as loyalty, bravery, and the importance of education.
In one scene, Heinlein teaches the reader a mnemonic for memorizing some important facts about our solar system and demonstrates how to solve a problem involving the speed of light mathematically.
Importantly, Heinlein was generations ahead of his time when he made the girls and women in his books as smart and brave as the males. Protagonists in all of his juveniles (including HSWT) are of various races and both genders, which makes them great for both boys and girls today.
When I finished (in two days!) HSWT I went back to the library and proceeded over the next few years to read every book it had with the little spaceship & atom logo. To this day, I read voraciously, and I know that if I hadn't become one of Heinlein's Children, I would not be the man I am today. If you want to give your kis a reading jones, buy this book. Trust me!
(PS: Heinlein has an entire string of juveniles which are still in print. "Podkayne of Mars", "The Puppet Masters", "Citizen of The Galaxy", "Space Cadet", "Starman Jones" and "Tunnel In The Sky" were some that I loved best as a kid."
Email me if you want more info. :
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best!, October 12, 1997
By A Customer
I read this book at an early age, and it introduced me to a whole new way of thinking. Kip's rugged individualism and determination inspired me like nothing else in my life. This book also served as a springboard to other Science Fiction books and authors. Kip, a "typical" teen, wants to go to the Moon. Following his father's advice, he eventually wins an old space suit, which he meticulously rebuilds and eventually tests in his back yard. Then a space ship lands on him. Captured by space pirates and their alien master, Kip meets Peewee, the daughter of a famous Princeton thinker, and her Vegan companion, the "Mother Thing". After adventures and defeat on the Moon, the action shifts to Pluto, where escape seems impossible, and death inevitable. The "Mother Thing", however, proves to be more than a match for the alien "Wormfaces" who are intent on conquoring the Earth. After a stay on Vega, the story culminates with a trip to the Lesser Megallanic Clouds, where Kip and Peewee must stand trial in the name of all mankind. I recomend children of all ages read this book. It is filled with wonder and adventure that nobody should miss.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a Wonderful Adventure, June 25, 2000
At the beginning of Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Kip is just an ordinary boy who'd like to go into space. The story is placed in the near future when the moon has a colony and tourists. The nearest Kip thinks he can get to the moon is by winning an old spacesuit in a contest. The whole opening of the book is his cleverness and resourcefulness in figuring how to win the spacesuit and then in repairing the old spacesuit. Heinlein has a lot to say here about the importance of independence, resourcefulness and initiative. The lesson the book gives is that if you want something, go for it. Heinlein gets in some real swipes at the public school system that are as valid today as when it was written. His solution, if you feel you're not being educated in school, continue to attend school but educate yourself. Read, look up information. This doesn't mean the book is dull. All I've mentioned only begins the adventure. Having fixed up his spacesuit to the point that it's spaceworthy, Kip one night wears his spacesuit and turns on its radio, intercepts a call for help, tries to rescue a kidnapped girl who is fleeing her captors, gets kidnapped himself, gets his wish to go into space in a way he never dreamed of and suddenly the rest of the book is non-stop action. The scope of the book suddenly takes a giant leap out into the universe, a universe filled with alien races who frankly don't think much of the humans from earth. In a very moving scene, it's up to Kip to present a defense of the human race, with his life and the life of humanity hanging in the balance. It's a wonderful story and as good today as when it was written. If you have preteens who are ready to "graduate" from reading Harry Potter, this is the perfect book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this the best of Heinlein's juveniles?, November 20, 2002
By 
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Or does that honor go to CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY (1957)? The weary old man who looks back from more than four decades' distance finds the story of Thorby Baslim the more interesting, but the kid who came across HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL in the first real library he'd ever entered (with that black and yellow and red Scribner's dust jacket, illustrated by Clifford Geary) demands prior consideration. I fell instantly in love with the story of Kip Russell and gutsy little Patricia Wynant (Peewee) Reisfeld, who represented to me the essence of that unassuming courage and simple decency to which any honorable adolescent boy should aspire.
Other recent reviewers have summarized the novel well enough on this Web site, so I won't recapitulate. I *will*, however, remark on the fact that Robert A. Heinlein is the only writer of my experience to have tucked the proverbial "expositional lump" into a juvenile novel and successfully delighted the majority of his readers thereby, going on for ten pages -- *TEN* solid *PAGES* -- about the design, maintenance and repair of a vacuum suit, and not only kept the pace of his story but used every lick of that engineering tutorial to strengthen the suspense and enhance the reader's involvement in what happened later to the protagonist, his allies and his opponents. Hellacious writing, "juvenile" labeling be damned.
(Incidentally, youngsters reading this review might like to know that Heinlein was a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and was trained there as an engineer. Pulmonary tuberculosis resulted in his medical discharge from the Naval Service in the '30s, but he gave up a prosperous writing career at the beginning of World War II to join fellow SF writers Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where he did much work on high-altitude pressure suits -- what we would call space suits today. As such, Heinlein made a personal professional contribution to the technology that today allows shuttle and space station astronauts to spacewalk in safety and comfort, and his technical expertise is undeniable in the pages of HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL.)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not A "JUVENILE" Novel, July 13, 2000
Have Space Suit Will Travel is one of Robert A. Heinleins "juvenile" novels he wrote for Scribners from the late 40s to late 50s. The series is juvenile only because it was marketed as such. Note that Amazon has it listed for ages 4-8! The only thing juvenile are two of the protagonists.
I've also noted that one reviewer makes reference to the protagonists "talking space suit". For the record, the space suit does not talk. Clifford Russell talks to it the way some men talk to their cars.
Anyway the story is about about a teenager on the edge of manhood. Clifford Russell lives in a small town with his mother and his mildly eccentric father. His father has raised him to believe he can achieve anything if he works hard and systematically. Kip wants to be an engineer and go to the moon. Of course trips to the moon are common in this near future world if you have money. Kip doesn't but thru a series of circumstances obtains and refurbishes a military surplus space suit. Then one day a flying saucer answers his radio call. That's when the fun really starts....
This satire is a masterpiece. I first read it as 9 year old and I've re-read it annually. When I first read it, it was fun. As I got older I began to understand more the things Kip learned. Heinlein is one of the few SF authors to make the details of spaceflight (and the suits operation) accurate. The characters are interesting and the authors comments about people dead on.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Magic, August 26, 2000
By 
Amazon Customer (Greensboro, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This is the best of Heinlein's juveniles and one of the three or four best books he ever wrote. When I first read it in seventh grade, it made me wish desperately that I was there, that it was all really happening to me, more than any book I had ever read (with the possible exception of Eleanor Cameron's "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet," for younger readers).
I was surprised, on re-reading, how well this book held up. I was also surprised by the intended age level. It is actually directed toward high school kids, and contains a lot of hard science technicalities that went right over my head in seventh grade--but that didn't detract from the story one whit. On the other hand, being able to follow those technicalities added to my enjoyment this time around.
I can only think of one group of people who wouldn't enjoy this book, and those are the poor unfortunates who have lost their childhood sense of wonder. That phrase is often associated with fantasy, which "Have Space Suit: Will Travel" is decidedly not. It is a good, taut, hard-science fiction novel that does not HAVE magic--it IS magic. If you can't sense it, you have my deepest sympathy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but not technical, August 1, 1997
By A Customer
Let's get this straight right off the bat. This is not one of Heinlein's most radical books, it is not brimming with abstract speculation on the human condition and how our current paths shall take us only to ruin and destruction. There is no future prediction, no hard science showcasing something new and possible. It is merely a science-fiction adventure novel.

It is also one of the best science-fiction novels ever written. While it may not have all that was stated above, it does have one thing: humor, a brisk sense of fun, and a rapid pace that makes this book fly all too quickly. This is one of those rare science-fiction tales that, like a good cartoon, can be easily read by a child, but there is enough to keep adults interested also.

Also, this book is probably one of the greatest of Heinlein's wish fulfillments ever. Kip might have to go through heck in this novel, but everything works out perfect in the end, and who wouldn't want a life like that? Ah, the temptations of fiction!

And, as a final aside, I think the last couple of pages is one of the most classic endings of any science-fiction novels, just on sheer wit alone. Heinlein outdid himself on this one
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Have Space Suit - Will Travel
Have Space Suit - Will Travel by Robert Heinlein (Paperback - Aug. 2003)
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