A wacky and weird story told through postcards, letters and newspaper cuttings.
Jon Fisher has stayed behind on Pluto with his friend, Straxi, while his parents, older brother and younger sister have returned to Earth – a mere seven and a billion kilometres away. Unfortunately, his teacher, Mrs Hall, is also on Pluto and she has a mission to get everyone writing letters. To make matters worse, Mrs Hall has been made Temporary President of Pluto for a month while President Clyde is away on honeymoon (he’s just married Jon’s Gran). Suddenly Pluto has a lot of new laws that are remarkably like school rules. Everyone is busy learning their times tables and practising for the next spelling test: indeed, they’re so preoccupied that saving Pluto from a giant Snargler falls to Jon and Straxi.
As this brief summary suggests, this is a wacky and weird story for emerging readers. As the third in a series of books, I did wonder whether the fact I hadn’t read either of the first two was going to spoil my enjoyment. Fortunately, while it would’ve been nice to know more about the backstory of the book’s various characters, Teachers on Pluto does stand alone.
This isn’t a traditional story broken into distinct chapters. Instead it tells the story through a range of different documents including newspaper cuttings, letters between our main character Jon on Pluto and his parents on Earth, postcards between Jon and his Gran, various posters and leaflets with public announcements, and even the internal report from a robot.
This unusual format works remarkable well and I was particularly impressed that the overarching narrative remains easy to follow. The format also provides lots of opportunities for humour and I especially chuckled at the postcard exchanges between Jon and his Gran. (She’s entered the ‘Saturn Ring Race’ and we’re treated to updates on her progress through the qualifiers to the finals as well as some wonderful asides of what she has planned for the moment she’s sent off the postcard, including abseiling, caving and sky diving).
The format also provides lots of opportunities for fun illustrations, including Jon’s doodles on his letters, and a whole range of fonts. No two pages are the same and I’m confident this variety will help keep the interest of younger readers.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to read about Jon’s previous adventures in space in Letter to Pluto by Lou Treleaven or Homework on Pluto by the same author. Alternatively, why not try Arlo, Miss Pythia and the Forbidden Box by Alice Hemming.
Publication date: May 2019
Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
Website: Lou Treleaven