Black Holes and Parallel Universes: Science Fiction Books CORL (Check Off your Reading List) Challenge 2014 GB Challenges It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Intergalactic Bands and Board Game from Outer Space: “Worst Band in the Universe” and “Zathura”


Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.


Sign up here to join us! Here is the October-December linky. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Cherub Dark Sun by Robert Muchamore to two lucky CORL participants from October-December.

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.

Iphigene has outdone herself with this beautiful widget she created.
Iphigene has outdone herself with this beautiful widget she created.

These two fiction picturebooks show science fiction at its finest. Reading them both was truly an otherworldly experience.


Written and Illustrated byChris Van Allsburg
Published byHoughton Mifflin Company, 2002
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I am familiar with the film version of this story and enjoyed it as much as I loved watching Jumanji, which is also based on Van Allsburg’s picturebook. While I bought this book a few years back during the Library Warehouse Sale, it is only now that I have cracked it open for our current reading theme.

Two brothers at each other’s throat (literally). Parents are away. A board game resting innocuously against a tree in the park. A space adventure of a lifetime.


Unlike most picturebooks published recently that seem to shy away from blocks of text, this one has a fairly well-developed textual narrative matched with astounding monochrome or black-and-white life-like illustrations.


There is the vastness of space as depicted in a few choice illustrations, defective robots, black holes, loss of gravity, and Zorgon pirates to complicate matters further. Yet at the heart of it all is two brothers working with (rather than against) each other, for once, as they play together to save the other one’s life. For teachers who wish to make use of this book in the classroom, here is Houghton Mifflin Books weblink which consists of a detailed teachers’ guide complete with possible discussion questions, activities that can be done in the classroom, lots of downloadable PDF resources and more weblinks and resources that can be explored further.

The Worst Band In The Universe: A Totally Cosmic Musical AdventureIMG_6198

Written and Illustrated by: Graeme Base
Published byHarry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999
Borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

I bought this book around four years back in one of the book sales here in Singapore. I immediately snapped it up seeing that it’s created by one of my absolute favourite Australian author-illustrator, Graeme Base.

Unlike other Graeme Base’s picturebooks that usually take on a relatively light approach when it comes to text-narrative – this one is both heavily laden with text (written in verse of epic-like proportions), and his trademark amazingly-detailed, intensely-colourful art that the reader can literally drown in.


This story takes the reader to Planet Blipp, way beyond the stars, and introduces a character that would be well-loved by any aspiring young musician: Sprocc, a Splingtwanger-player, who wanted more than anything to set his music free and create new musical compositions and renditions that he could share with his fellow creatures in Blipp. However, improvisation has been outlawed, new songs are frowned upon as only Ancient Songs are permitted air time, and Innovation is sufficient reason for banishment.


Sprocc, with his restless thirteen year old soul, feels constricted by all these outdated rules, and decided to leave his home to find a more welcoming space in the galaxy. Aboard the SpaceBus, he headed to the off-world and found himself at the Arrivals Hall at Planet Squagg Intergalactic SpacePort:


And lo and behold, there is an illegal music venue found in Sector 9 called the Mesh Pit. Hah. And there is a hush-hush battle of the band that is actually happening with the first prize winning an all-expenses paid trip to Alpha 10.

IMG_6204Whether or not Sprocc’s band makes the cut, I shall leave to you to discover. I love the character of the Musical Inquisitor with his ultra-elaborate hi-fi system and his nefarious methods.


Then there is the urban legend, Skat, one of the gifted musicians in the galaxy who was likewise banished from Blipp because of his innovative spirit. As if this magnificent world created from Graeme Base’s genius mind is not enough, he actually created a Musical CD from the Battle of the Bands, complete with rare 9 musical tracks with a total programme time of 25 minutes in all. How can one man be this talented? Sometimes, I think, the world truly isn’t fair. If you wish to know more about Graeme Base and his creative process, click here to be taken to a very detailed interview with him done by

Currently Reading…

I have finished reading Tone Almhjell’s The Twistrose Key. Finally! I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. I am currently in the thick of reading Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There. I find myself liking this one more than the first book.


Still no progress with Wonderbook, sadly, as I am busy preparing for an international conference this week.


I will be traveling once again. This time I have been invited to give one of the keynote speeches at Kazakhstan and will be leaving early Wednesday morning. Very excited about it.



Reading Challenge Update: 256-257 (25)

13 comments on “[Monday Reading] Intergalactic Bands and Board Game from Outer Space: “Worst Band in the Universe” and “Zathura”

  1. craftybooksheeps

    Love all the bike reads! My 2 year old loves bikes! Zathura looks like a cool book! Hope you have a great reading week! 🙂

    Here’s my Monday!


  2. I love the illustrations in both picture books–even though they are so strikingly different! Enjoy your travels this week.


  3. Wow, I am not familiar with either of these, Myra. I’ve used Jumanji in the past for a game-creating project, but Zathura looks even more serious. And the music one will certainly touch a few of our older students who are trying their ways with music. Great books to discover!


  4. Chris Van Allsburg is a wonder – I find something new to marvel over every time I reach for a well read book of his. Always a treat!


  5. I appreciate the focus on more “text-heavy” PBs, Myra. My older son is wanting longer, more developed stories right now, and I’m always looking for PBs with more text. Will definitely get both of these from the library this week!


  6. OH, how I love Chris Van Allsburg! 🙂


  7. Love Steampunk books! Nice week 🙂


  8. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland looks amazing!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings


  9. Safe travels to you! 🙂 Like to two pbs you shared, excellent additions to the theme… 🙂


  10. So great to see Zathura here. I am such a fan of Van Allsburg.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Just noticed that you are speaking at NAGC next month. Would love to connect there!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] My Top Forty (or so) Picturebooks and Graphic Novels (Part 3 of 3) – Gathering Books

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