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Swans in Space Volume 1 - Lun Lun Yamamoto

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Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics / Author: Lun Lun Yamamoto / Paperback / Reading Level: Ages 9-12 / 160 Pages / Book is published 2009-06-30 by Udon Entertainment

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      19.04.2010 20:48
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      Corona and Lan save the universe with cuteness!

      I can remember when Power Rangers first came on TV. Boys and girls alike were keen to pretend to be their favourite Ranger, and save the universe. Maybe you were one of those kids, and wished it was real, and you could become one of the Rangers too. But, just like the generation before who daydreamed of becoming a member of the Justice League, it simply didn't happen. It was all just a TV show. But what if it wasn't?

      Enter the TV show "Space Patrol". It has uniforms straight out of a late 60's Star Trek inspired costume fest, but with leggings and button up boots, tailored for an eleven year old prepubescent body. The spacecraft appear to be swan shaped pedalos nicked from a local park, fitted with some kind of engine and given a dome to hopefully keep the air in. The stories seem amateurishly acted. It is no wonder the ratings are low, but even the worst kid's show somehow manages to garner fans. Fans like Lan, who proudly proclaims her love of Space patrol even to the ridicule of her classmates on the playground.

      But bullying somebody is just mean and star student and class president Corona feels really sorry for Lan. People are free to like whatever show they want to, so she decides to approach Lan. Unfortunately, she is only 11 years old and has not learned to not tell white lies to make people feel better. Lies such as, "It's cool. I like Space Patrol too." Why not? Because boys and girls, that person may latch on and go all crazy fan on you, wanting to share their passion for the show.

      This is exactly what happens, and Corona ends up pressed to accept and wear a Space Patrol watch. Just what you want, right? To wear a most uncool item from a show people make fun of others for watching. Still, she has integrity, so wear it she does. This is where she discovers there is something more than a little iffy. Putting on a piece of fan memorabilia should not cause one to get beamed out of their bed at night, only to find themselves on a planet full of babies with a giant baby running amok wreaking havoc, and inexplicably finding Lan also there. Something has to be done about the baby situation before she can try to resolve the underlying personal issue of being abducted out of bed in the first place. Using the leadership skills that made her class president and the reasoning skills that make her a top student, Corona quickly puts things right again.

      This is where the cat is let out of the bag, for a little alien that looks more than a little bit like a little bear in clothes then appears. No, it is not exactly another problem appearing to be solved, it is Lan's instructor. Eh? Instructor? Yep, for training Space Patrol recruits. Seems Lan is a recruit, and the TV show is nothing but re-enactments of real missions, and the Space Patrollers play themselves. The show is to generate a fan base that they can recruit from, finding them by those watches! Juggling schoolwork, class government duties, and training while doing mini missions and chores for the Space Patrol just made Corona one busy girl indeed. Will she make it despite having a naff costume, a ship that would make evil aliens run away laughing in disbelief, and having a slacker for an instructor AND a classmate cum co-worker? And what about her school friends?

      This little gem of manga is aimed at girls aged 6 and up. Unusually, it is in full colour, with art suitably cute and colours that would make the Powder Puff Girls gasp in admiration. It is four chapters long, each one being a complete little story arc so kids reading a chapter before bed won't be left hanging until the middle of the next one for resolution of the mini adventure, yet each one leads into the next so there is plenty to look forward to. At 146 pages, this is a great book for not only bedtime reading, but taking along on holiday as it is light enough to not bog a child down, but not short enough as a whole to be over too soon. The comics portion is not all there is either. The back of the book contains fun extras such as paper dolls and outfits that can be scanned and printed out, preferably on stiff paper, for play (I don't recommend defacing a book by cutting them out), as well as a few bonus pages with "behind the scenes" information on the secret functions of the uniforms, a look at the space station and more.

      Like most quality children's books, there are lessons to be had amongst all the fun. Corona learns that she may be smarter book wise, and she may have leadership skills, but this does not mean you can't rely on others. Lan learns she has to be more responsible, and the two girls play off each other to great comic effect. Corona is the straight man to Lan's comic foil. It is amusingly sweet with a feel good edge to the lessons about themselves and others that they encounter, but without being too cute and syrupy sweet. Simply perfect for the little girl who wants to make friends, save the universe from chaos, and be adorable while doing it.

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