Oh, how I loved this book when I first read it! It must have been around 1962 when I discovered it in the school library. I was absolutely taken with the story of Mr. Bass, and the little green planet and the ship the boys built to go there. It was the beginning of the manned space age, I reading this book, I could imagine myself on board with the crew, the chicken (!), and the little oxygen cylinder going "pheep..pheep..."
Take it from an ex-eight year old; this is a wonderful book.
on November 25, 2003
The first of Cameron's Mushroom Planet books, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet still casts a spell many years after its first publication. David and Chuck, two best friends, build a rocketship (well, a full-sized model of one) after reading a mysterious newspaper advertisement asking for just such a spaceship and promising "adventure" to the boys who bring the best spaceship to an address that they're not even sure exists. Mystery piles atop mystery and revelation on revelation, until the two boys find themselves on a rescue mission to a tiny, invisible planet orbiting only a short distance (astronomically speaking) from the Earth itself!
The writing is smooth, straightforward, and engaging, and Cameron's characters are sketched out with clear and emphatic detail. There is a bizarre, almost dreamlike quality to the book itself, due at least in part to the juxtaposition of a strong and clear respect for and use of scientific approaches and terminology with truly mystical phenomena that cannot be explained by any science known to man. The scientific wizard Mr. Bass -- there's no better way to describe him -- creates inventions that sound scientific, may even BE scientific in a way, and yet his work is surrounded by all the enigmatic atmosphere of the most mysterious sorceror. At the same time, the rescue and its conclusion rest on firm, rational grounds, so that we keep being anchored back to reality.
A fascinating book and well worth the read even if -- or perhaps especially if -- you are an adult who is trying to remember why some kids' books still stick with you.
on October 1, 1999
This book, the first in the Mushroom Planet series, enthralled me as a youth more than 30 years ago, spurring me to read the entire series. It strikes the perfect chord for young readers, especially boys, at that age when they still possess enough innocence and ignorance of reality to believe in the possibility of their own trip to an "invisible" planetoid. The characters are written well, with a spirit of youthful exuberance and confidence that draws you into their experience as if you, too, were along for the ride. I read it again as a young adult and, although tempered by my realization of the realities of science vis-a-vis the boys' accomplishments, it still was a stirring read. A children's classic!
on October 13, 2002
David and Chuck are just a couple of regular, ordinary, everyday kids, with a regular, ordinary, everyday chicken, named Mrs. Pennyfeather. One day they happen to answer a regular, ordinary, everyday newspaper ad. Suddenly they find themselves blasting off in a tiny spaceship, headed for a tiny planet that a local astronomer has just discovered! Before they know it, they are on a mission to save the tiny Mushroom Planet from a terrible fate. All they have to depend upon are their wits, the astronomer's mysterious advice, their own love of science -- and their regular, ordinary, everyday chicken, Mrs. Pennyfeather. What will become of them? What will become of the chicken? What will become of the inhabitants of the little planet, the Mushroom People?
I remember first reading this story, in about third grade. Eleanor Cameron makes the story so interesting, and so fun, I didn't even want to go to sleep until I had finished the book. After I finished it, I couldn't decide which was more interesting to me: reading, or doing science. Just remember -- if the kids didn't know their science, the story wouldn't have a happy ending! That's all I'll say here. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone.
This happens to be a really good time to be reading this neat little book. Did you know that real astronomers recently discovered something new in our solar system? They can't decide if they should call it a planet or not. Would you like to learn more about it? See if you can use the Internet to learn about the word "Quaoar," which is what astronomers are calling the object. Or, you could ask your science teacher about it. Who knows -- maybe we'll even find some mutant mushrooms up there, someday!
I would like to recommend another astronomy book that I loved in third grade. It's called "Powers of Ten," by Philip Morrison. I haven't been in third grade for quite awhile, but I STILL love that book. Please take 2 minutes and see if you can find it on Amazon.com -- I bet you'll love it.
Anyway -- "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet" is amazing. Two thumbs up!
on September 20, 2004
"For a few seconds it was terrifying! Everything seemed to happen at once. First there was the blasting roar, and the boys were flung backward in their seats so violently by the forward impact of the ship that the breath was knocked out of them. At the same time poor Mrs. Pennyfeather lost her wits entirely and squawked and flapped and flew in their faces, beating her wings so wildly that they were completely blinded by her."
If only it were possible to give a book more than five stars. The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet was one of my favorite books as a kid. It tells the story of David Topman and Chuck Masterson, two boys "between the ages of eight and eleven" who, with the help of Mr. Tycho M. Bass, build and pilot a slim, beautiful spaceship to a small (35 miles in diameter) planet named Basidium-X.
My poor words can't begin to express how wonderful is this book. I've read other books I loved as a child - No Flying in the House comes instantly to mind - as an adult and found them a hideous disappointment. But The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet still DOES it for me. And that's pretty darn cool. If you're thinking of buying this book for your child....do it. If you loved it as a child yourself, and are wondering if it could possibly hit you as hard decades later....oh YES.
on September 12, 2000
Just on a fluke, I looked this series up on the Internet. I had remembered these books and was beginning to think they were a dream or something I had conjured up as I couldn't find them anywhere at our local libraries. I too loved them as a child and used to turn my doll cradle updside down and use it as a space ship so that I could join the book characters on their trips. I was really glad to know I wasn't crazy and that these stories did, and still do, exist. They are a great set of books for a young child.
on February 17, 2000
This review was writen by my son Sam Anderson, age 9 after reading this book. Do you want to buy a great book? I recomend The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet as a book you should read. This is an adventure story that is very exciting. Here are 3 statements that I came up with to describe this book; 1)It's a good book 2)It's exciting 3)It's a good story. You can find it at your local library. Have more fun finding this book at www.Amazon.com! I hope you like this book as much as I did. This book is fun and exciting for the whold family.
on January 23, 2001
About the only thing I can remember from second grade, back in '61 or '62, is that I read The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet--repeatedly--and loved it. I always wished that I too could meet Mr. Tyco M. Bass. It never occurred to me at the time that I would have been prevented from doing so because I was a girl. As I recall, the little green ad that David's father found in the Pacific Grove newspaper was an invitation to a boy or boys to go on an adventure and do a good deed. But this didn't stop me from being enthralled with the book, with Mr. Bass, Mr. Bass's observatory, telescopes, filters, workshop, the Mushroom Planet, David & Chuck's spaceship, Mr. Bass's rocket fuel formula, or David's humble spur-of-the-moment mascot, Mrs. Pennyfeather (I believe that was her name).
A great book to read if you are eight! Also great if you are 48!
on August 12, 2005
Recently I was in the Public Library on a mission that had nothing to do with Children's books.
I am.... umm... more than forty years old, let's just say!
But as I was leaving I glanced at a table that had this OUTER-SPACE theme going, for kids. And on the table was the Mushroom book. My mind was instantly transported back to my own childhood, when I first read it.
So, I picked it up, and signed it out, re-reading it with a third of a century between my first and second impressions.
It is STILL an awesome book, I'm not kidding.
In the story, David Topman and Chuck Masterson (don't they just sound like astronauts?) are two boys that build (out of random pieces of aluminum sheeting, plasti-glass and old boat parts found in Cap'n Tom's garage) their own spaceship! They do this in response to an ad that David's father saw in the paper, placed there by a Mr. Bass, who is promising "an adventure and a chance to do a good deed" to the boys who build the best ship.
The mission is to go to Mr. Bass's home planet, Basidium X.
Mr. Bass is (of course) a Mushroom-Person who has somehow drifted to earth, travelling as a spore, many eons ago. He is the only person on earth who can observe Basidium X from its orbital position 50,000 miles from earth (one-fifth as far as the moon) because he has invented the Stroboscopic Polaroid Filter which, when attached to the lens of his telescope enables him to see the otherwise invisible Mushroom Planet.
The boys create their ship, and they present it to Mr. Bass. I just love the sign in front of Mr. Bass's place, when they arrive.... "5 Thallo St. ALL SPACE SHIPS WELCOME!"
It is not only the best, but apparently the ONLY submission, and so they are immediately thrown into plans to leave earth for Basidium X that very night! At midnight.
The premise is so wonderfully crazy that I love it.
They are to arrive at Basidium X promptly at 2 a.m. (25,000 miles per hour, in case you are keeping track of gas mileage and all).... and while there they are to see if they can discover what the current state of the planet is by retrieving a "canning jar" of Basidium air.... and then they are to leave promptly at 4 a.m., and to be back home in bed by a little after six! Landing safely on their beach in Monterey California, a few blocks from their actual house.
When the boys tell their parents about this upcoming trip, of course, they are not believed. And so there is no panic. In fact, David's mother sets out the appropriate clothing that he has requested for the journey.
Little do the grownups know that these boys ain't playing games!
They are actually going. And they do. Right on time. David, as commander, has been given a little folded up piece of paper which he keeps in his wallet and periodically checks, to see if they are on course, and stuff like that! (I love it!)
Everything is going to schedule, right to the minute. [NASA could learn a lot from this Mr. Bass guy!]
When the boys get there, they meet two of the Mushroom People (the planet is covered in tree-tall mushroom growth, and the inhabitants look very mushroom-y too)... these natives are called Mebe and Oru, and the boys soon learn that these two are doomed to be beheaded if they cannot find a solution to the current environmental/ecological problems regarding their essential food supply on Basidium X.
The very authoritative King Ta has ordered these executions, and the boys are soon pleading with him to allow them the allotted two hours to solve the mystery. They are taken on a quick tour, given a quick historical de-briefing, and led to The Place of the Hidden Water. Here is where the dying vegetation, essential to the Mushroom People is located.
The boys are initially stumped. They are grossed out at the overall sulfuric smell of the place.
Later, when they are just about to leave, Chuck begins to eat a bit of his lunch, and herein the mystery is solved. I won't say more because I know that all of you want to run out and buy this book today and read it.
Suffice it to say though, that just before they left earth, Mr. Bass reminded them that they needed to bring along a mascot, and (pressed for time) all that David could scrounge up was an old hen in the chicken coop by the name of Mrs. Pennyfeather. So they took along this.... chicken, into outer space.
Mrs. Pennyfeather ends up saving the entire race of Mushroomites, Mebe and Pru are spared, the boys are planetary heroes, King Ta rewards them by giving them his ceremonial necklace, and they return to earth safely, whereupon, the next day they prove to their parents that the whole thing was real.
There are many moments of doubt, whereupon the reader wonders if the boys are dreaming this whole adventure up. (I'm sure I wondered this much less with the first go-around, thirty-some years ago).
But it is really so well-written. So fanciful. I consider it a children's classic.
The fact that it, and the whole Mushroom series is still in print, attests to its classic status.
Originally published in 1954, this book of 195 pages still can speak to a generation of kids, I really think it can. In fact, I hope that it can.
Nowadays, the youngest of elementary schoolkids can tell you that even a few inches of unprotected surface-area WILL spell disaster for any spacecraft and crew upon re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.
It was so nice to read Cameron's book and suspend my imagination for a wee bit. To believe that a dang old chicken can save the fate of an invisible planet hovering between here and the moon. To not worry about the logistical problems of a space ship constructed of Cap'n Tom's random odds and ends. To just climb inside the thing and believe in it as much now as I did the first time around.
on February 9, 2001
The Wonderful Flight To the Mushroom Planet is a great book. This book is full of fun and excitement. In the book 2 boys go on a space adventure for an elderly man to a secret satelite called Basdem X. To see if there were any things on the satlite. To find out if there are any creatures on the satelite read the Wonderful Flight To The Mushroom Planet. I realy recomend this book to anyone who likes adventure books.