Queek’s Race in Outer Space by Carrie Mortleman. Book Review.


This is a fairly challenging book for children just beginning to read longer texts or early chapter books which doesn’t seem to fit the idea of rhyming. Hellie the elephant and her friend, Queek the mouse, decide to go to Mars to challenge the aliens to a race. The aliens are generous hosts and the elephant wins by trumpeting and zipping across the finish line just ahead of the alien. The winner receives a prize supplied by the aliens. There are humorous and slightly suspenseful moments.

The first page reads:

  • Queek is a scrumptious sugar mouse
  • who glimmers in the sun.
  • He lives in a yummy cookie house
  • with Hellie, who loves to have fun.

The syllabication is off – seven, six, nine, seven. Writing in rhyme is not the best choice for most authors. The last line also klunks because the rhythm is broken.

Some of the sentences are awkward in order to make them rhyme.

  • Very tired from the flight, they landed, feeling blurry.
  • All the aliens stared in fright to see creatures so furry!

The next page reads:

  • Hellie the Hovercraft elephant is an elephant who can fly
  • she flitters and flutters
  • and splitters and splutters
  • and zooms up in the sky.

Since this book employs a lot of difficult words, I think it’s important to use them in their proper context. Splitters are devices for cutting software and splutters means to choke or spit. I understand that she is trying to make a rhyme but since there are so many other difficult words in the book, this could be confusing for a child starting to read larger books on his own. There are several large words used correctly such as frustration, tremendous, stupendous, precarious, hilarious, croissants. They often rhymes quite cleverly. There are also some odd phrasings like “feasted keenly.” and “a hefty blast”. The book ends with a glossary translating ten alien language statements.

On page 7, there is a knock knock joke coming out of nowhere which ends, “I must come in and use the toilet.” It features a sign on what appears to be a swirl of feces but later turns out to be Mars.

The illustration is an odd combination of flat drawings of the mouse and elephant and 3-D style computer graphics. This can be effective when the pictures are blended together carefully however most of these illustrations were not comfortable to the eye.

I received an e-book copy for review.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


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