Reading for Grade School Students: The Mushroom Planet Series by Eleanor Cameron
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet
Eleanor Cameron wrote this first book of the The Mushroom Planet series for her son David who, according to the book dedication, "asked for this book and edited it with a stern black pencil." The other books are:
This unit series includes the series introduction and book overview, a vocabulary development lesson, a discussion guide, and a parent homework study guide. It is age appropriate for ages eight to eleven and has earned its reputation as one of the favorite science fiction classics for youngsters.
This information can be used to supplement the reading; it does not divulge enough plot information to discourage independent reading.
Part One, Chapters One to Eight
Part One of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet includes eight chapters. The main characters are introduced, and the plot begins to develop.
David Topham and Chuck Masterson are best friends, and they build their homemade spaceship without any adult help. Both boys are interested in space and other planets. At the end of part one, the boys take their ship to the advertised address on Thallo Street, and meet the mysterious Mr. Tyco Bass. Mr. Bass reveals the reason for his advertisement: He wants the boys to leave immediately on a space flight. Their destination is the undiscovered planet of Basidium, also called the Mushroom Planet. An adventure and a mystery await them, and the life of another race depends on them.
Part Two, Chapters Nine to Thirteen
Mr. Bass puts the finishing touches on the boys' spaceship and gives them their instructions:
- Take a mascot.
- Bring back a sample of Basidium air in a canning jar.
- Leave at precisely midnight.
- Return at precisely four o'clock the next morning.
- Keep the written directions for operating the ship with you at all times.
- Never doubt!
Somewhat bewildered but trusting Mr. Bass, the boys return home and make their final preparations. Each boy brings a huge sack of food. Although David forgets the jar, Chuck brings sugar in a canning jar, so all is well. A hasty trip back to grab Mrs. Pennyfeather, the mascot, and her food, and the boys take off at precisely midnight.
The rest of Part Two covers the trip to the Mushroom Planet and introduces more characters: Mebe, Oru, and the Great Ta. Mebe and Oru are not-so-wise Wise Men who are in disfavor with their ruler, the Great Ta. Unable to discern why the Mushroom People are dying, the Great Ta has ordered the two Wise Men beheaded.
Part Two, Chapters 14 to 17
David and Chuck are determined to help the Mushroom people, and Ta takes them to The Place of Hidden Water. The Basidiumites' supply of a magic plant has dwindled so drastically that the adults' lives are threatened. The plant only grows at the Place of Hidden Water. Although the boys smell a familiar odor in the water, they cannot identify it. Unable to uncover the secret cure for the Mushroom people's illness, the party returns to Ta's abode.
Chuck is hungry and cracks open a hard-boiled egg he had in his pocket. As he eats the egg, he and David smell the familiar odor and make the connection: the Basidiumites need a little sulfur to be healthy.
Part Three, Chapters 18 to 20
David and Chuck give Mrs. Pennyfeather and her food to the Great Ta and instruct him on how to care for her. Mebe and Oru learn to make boiled eggs.
The boys prepare to leave, and Ta spies the canning jar of Basidium air. He rescues the jar and gives them his royal necklace as a reward for their good deed. They blast off, precisely at four o'clock, and return home. They survive a rocky landing in a storm and return home exhausted.
Mr. Bass does not show up for their appointment the next day. Their ship has washed away in the storm, Mr. Bass is gone, and the Great Ta's gift is lost. Things look grim for the boys, but Cap'n Tom finds Mr. Bass's will and discovers that David and Chuck have inherited everything. Chuck finds the necklace, and the book ends on a happy note with the boys setting up their Society of Young Astronomers and Students of Space Travel.
This general sketch of the plot and main characters of the book by Eleanor Cameron, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, can be used as a stand-alone lesson resource or as a supplemental part of the lesson plan unit.
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron