From School Library Journal
Grade 7–9—Thirteen-year-old Scott MacLeod has been an underage pilot since his dad, a Korean War-era ace and flight instructor for Vietnam War jet pilots, secretly let him take the stick of his Cessna at age 12. Now, dad's letting him take occasional control of a "Tweet," the two-engine jet trainer he uses to ready "fresh meat" for duty in beefier aircraft. Though Scott, a quick study, handles the airborne aircraft well, he's never had to do the most difficult thing—land a jet aircraft. That changes suddenly when a fluke occurrence forces him to land a damaged plane himself, possibly ending his father's career. The incident arouses the interests of NASA officials who, in a top-secret program, have been sending chimps into space as a rehearsal for manned Apollo missions. The agency thinks that the diminutive Scott would be a perfect candidate to accompany two trained chimpanzees on a scaled-down test mission to orbit the moon in preparation for the upcoming Apollo 11
moon landing. In order to save his dad's career—and to satisfy his own thirst for adventure—Scott convinces his reluctant father to allow him to serve as the first tween-aged astronaut. Accompanied by two endearing primates, he will do everything the adult astronauts are scheduled to do—except actually land on the moon. Unless, that is, he decides to go the distance and take the mission into his own hands. Allusions to things like sneaking cigarettes, beer, and peeks at Playboy
magazine are authentic and realistic. This is a gripping and well-researched piece of space-age historical fiction.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the late 1960s, 13-year-old Scott doesn’t know much about Martin Luther King or Vietnam, but he does know flying. His father, a flight instructor in the air force, secretly takes his son on training missions, and when they experience a midair disaster, it is Scott who takes the controls and lands their damaged jet. Folks at the nearby NASA facility take notice and recruit Scott to pilot, along with two chimponauts, a clandestine mission to the moon to test a landing before the real astronauts attempt the historic feat. The absurdity of sending a boy into space to make sure it’s safe for grown, trained astronauts likely won’t be lost on readers, but Kerr doles out just enough plausibility, plenty of exciting space adventure, and an interesting primate-human friendship to help gloss over that little problem. When the story veers from The Right Stuff–fueled action into somewhat weirder 2001: A Space Odyssey territory, it loses a good deal of its momentum, but it gains a surprising metaphysical touch. Grades 6-9. --Ian Chipman