Star Scouts

Avani's dad wants her to go to Flower Scouts to make some friends in their new town, but she doesn't have much in common with the other girls and hates being a scout. When an alien scout accidentally abducts her, though, scouting becomes her lodestar. Avani's new alien friend Mabel introduces her to the Z-98s, "the worst troop in Star Scouts," and Avani's lonely days are transformed. But when her new troop heads to the galactic Camp Andromeda for a week, Avani stumbles into a competition for badges with an angry "methane breather" (the camp is split between oxygen and methane scouts), and she'll need help from all of her new friends to get her back to Earth and keep her Star Scout status.

Lawrence's debut as a solo graphic novelist (he previously illustrated Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek by Elizabeth Rusch and The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil) is a colorful romp with a silly sense of humor; one benefit to adding methane-breathing aliens to a book is endless opportunities for fart jokes. Though there's not much Earth science in the story--one of the badge challenges is Jetpacks--the book's sense of wonder will complement STEM-oriented lessons and readers. Lawrence’s illustrations are bright and dynamic, driving the action across (and down, and around) each page. And, significantly, when Avani's father tries to cheer her up with "tum meri raajkumari ho" ("you are my princess" in Hindi), Star Scouts adds a much-welcome young Indian girl to Earth's ranks of fictional space explorers. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library, Conn.

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