NASA, McDonalds, and Peanuts – what could be more American than all that?

New releases

The Snoopy/NASA Happy Meals have arrived at some (not all) US locations – one of the two places in town still has Lion King toys. But I hit the second one, and grabbed myself up two of the four books in the set. (There are also four toys, but I have no need for toys.) And for those who don’t know: they will indeed sell you the books or toys without purchasing any fast food – they charged me $1.69 apiece.

Snoopy: Constellation Quest is a mild story about Snoopy, Woodstock, Lucy, and Linus identifying the constellations in the night sky. Snoopy: The Mars Rover is about Charlie Brown dictating a school report about Mars for Snoopy to type, which spins Snoopy off into a fantasy of traveling to Mars to beat the Mars Rover (which he thinks is a dog, Rover) there. This is my preferred of the two books, both because there’s a bit more going on than just raw education (although of course CB’s report gives them a chance to lay down some basic Mars facts), and, well, I’ve got pals who worked on the Rover, so Rover stuff is a bit extra cool for me.

Each of the books has some sort of interactive element. The Constellations book has a layered back page – shove a cardboard “spotlight” between the layers, and “constellations” made of holes cut in the black top layer become visible. The Rover book comes with a red plastic filter that you can look at the pages through to reveal hidden figures.

Are these the best of Peanuts? Well, no. They’re notably conflict-free… understandable in a work that needs to get approved by a government branch and a major food corporation as being appropriate for kiddies. Peanuts in-house writing guy Jason Cooper and artist Tom Brannon, who has done some of the most high-visibility Peanuts projects, do a reasonable job of making a book that will be acceptable to all. But still, if you get your kid one of these, get them a good book of strips as well.

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