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Meet the Morningstar family in Space Taxi, a new chapter book series from Wendy Mass! Archie Morningstar has waited 8 years, 8 months, and 8 days for the chance to accompany his father to work. But Archieâ€™s dad is no ordinary cab driver. He drives an intergalactic space taxi, shuttling aliens from one corner of the universe to another. And Archie soon discovers that he has a natural knack for space navigation. Being a space taxi copilot is no easy task: Archie must steer them into wormholes, keep them from crashing into planets, and save the universe from an evil mastermind!
In the newest book in the series, Space Taxi: Water Planet Rescue, Archie, his dad, and their talking cat fly to a planet in peril. Someone is stealing the water from this underwater world.
Read the Q&A with the author below and submit a comment on our blog by 11:59 pm EDT on October 12, 2014, to let us know why this series is perfect for your students. Weâ€™ll randomly select 200 lucky teachers to win an advanced-reading copy of Space Taxi: Water Planet Rescue. Please note, to be entered into the contest, you must include your full name and mailing address with your comment so we can send you your book if you win. Your name and address will not be posted with your comment nor will they be saved; we are asking for these simply so we can mail you your book.
You are a self-professed lover of science, idolizing scientists over rock stars. What sparked your interest in all things science?
Iâ€™m not sure the exact moment when the world of science grabbed me, but an elementary school trip to Thomas Edisonâ€™s laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, solidified it. I love the idea that scientific discoveries are made because someone wondered why something is the way it is or how they can use the material they have to make something better. Then they are willing to fail over and over again until they find out. With todayâ€™s technology, the mysteries of the universe are unraveling in front of us. How lucky we are!
Your booksâ€”Every Soul a Star, Pi in the Sky, and now Space Taxiâ€”seamlessly weave science with fiction. Do you begin with the story idea and work in the science or does the science evolve from the story?
I start with the story idea and then research the science behind it. The things I learn always spark more story ideas. So it soon becomes hard to separate one from the other. Even though these books are science fiction/fantasy, we (my co-writer and husband, Mike) try to base Archieâ€™s adventures on real scientific principlesâ€”with a generous helping of creative license on the side.
Through the writing and researching process for your books, you’ve become quite the amateur scientist. Did anything surprise you as you did research for Space Taxi?
I was surprised once I really dug into the theories of what life on other planets might look like. The main theory for decades has been that carbon-based life forms could only exist if the conditions for life were in the â€śGoldilocks Habitable Zoneâ€ť where everything was just rightâ€”not too close to the sun but not too far; not too cold so water would freeze but not too hot so it would evaporate, etc. But now scientists believe that different conditions would simply lead to different types of life forms, perhaps not carbon-based, water-dependent life forms at all.
Archie and his family live in a city. Why did you choose to settle the Morningstars in an urban setting?
We wanted Archie to be pretty unfamiliar with the night sky before his first adventure, truly unaware of what was out there. Living in the city would keep him from seeing many stars when he looked out his window. Thereâ€™s so much light pollution in big cities that most of the sky is blotted out. This way he could be surprised and amazed at what he saw in the same way that the reader would hopefully be.
Can you give three clues to help readers figure out where in the universe Archie will travel next?
1. In Book 2, if you lived here, youâ€™d have fins instead of fingers.
2. In Book 3, youâ€™ll wonder just what a certain princess ate for breakfast.
3. In Book 4, you just might meet someoneâ€™s evil twin!
Donâ€™t forget, you can WIN a copy of Space Taxi: Water Planet Rescue by submitting a comment to our blog. Send your comment right now. Two hundred teachers will WIN!
PS:Â Get a free Educator’s Guide for the first book in the series,Â Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight! Click here!
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