Space Race

Sylvia Waugh, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-32766-4
Thomas, 11, and his father, Patrick, live a seemingly ordinary existence in the cozy northern English village of Belthorp. In reality, however, Thomas and Patrick are Tonitheen and Vateelin, alien agents from the planet Ormingat sent to Earth on a benevolent mission to record the doings of this planet's inhabitants. Their five-year stint nearly over, father and son expect to return to their planet the day after Christmas. On their way to recover their golf-ball-size space ship, stowed in Edinburgh, a dramatic traffic accident separates the pair, leaving Thomas stranded (and pretending to be mute) in a hospital. Meanwhile, Patrick--temporarily miniaturized by the shock--must fend for himself. In outline, this plot is as whimsical and imaginative as those of Waugh's earlier books; in execution, however, the story has a muffled feel, lacking the cozy warmth and immediacy that made her Mennyms adventures so vivid. Since so much of the novel takes place in the hospital, as a bedridden Thomas waits for his father to find him, melancholy introspection often takes the place of action (""He watched the Mickey Mouse clock and went listlessly back to his effort at telepathy, though with no real hope that it would work""). Even the shrunken Patrick's journey to Edinburgh--achieved partly via catching rides on the shoes of passers by--is strangely joyless. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Prebound-Glued - 256 pages - 978-0-613-88327-6
Hardcover - 300 pages - 978-0-7862-3606-0
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-09-940443-9
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-440-41714-9
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-307-55990-6
Prebound-Glued - 241 pages - 978-0-7569-0856-0
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