Airlock by Simon Cheshire

cover image

A&C Black, 2014. ISBN 9781408196878.
Recommended for Upper Primary, easy read for lower secondary. Short and pithy, this futuristic novel sees four students and their teacher Mr Snodbury, land on 'Berners-Lee' orbital Platform in a shuttle, in space. 'George and his friends were going to stay on the station for a week. This had been their reward for getting the best results in their year's science class'. p.13. George, Amira, Josh and Dwayne, (a troublesome classmate) are all year 6 students. They are shown around by two technicians. There are rivalries between the two companies manning the station. The children were wearing logos from the opposition and when the Commander sees this, he is incensed and orders the children away. But George notices an unusual problem. Chaos reigns and the culprit who causes the massive damage is the teacher, lured by money! The shuttle hurtles to earth with the probability that they will burn up. But, the children work out a solution.
There are many technical terms which would appeal to young readers and perhaps they dream of doing what this group have done, without the disaster! A short read for young readers wanting to think about space travel and what it entails. The text is well spaced and not very long. George, Amira and Josh are well drawn and believable but the teacher, sadly, rather poorly portrayed and the bully Dwayne no different. The three children are resourceful, thinking children who work out, firstly the problem and then the answer. It's sad the adults are characterised as bombastic and unable to think clearly in a crisis!
Sue Nosworthy