HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Tom Swift and The Asteroid Pirates
Author: Victor Appleton II
Illustrator: Charles Brey
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap, reprinted 1964
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Many publishers and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion. Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Appleton II, Victor. Tom Swift and The Asteroid Pirates (published in 1963 by Grosset and Dunlap Publishers Inc., New York City, NY). Young inventor Tom Swift Jr. and his best friend, Bud Barclay, both eighteen years old, are on Tom’s Flying Lab Sky Queen when they witness the explosion of a supply rocket headed for an American outpost on the asteroid Nestria. They eventually learn that a group of space pirates, headed by the Black Cobra, has surrounded the asteroid with an antimatter shield in an attempt to conquer it. The Cobra’s men also make several attempts on Tom’s life. The two boys, Tom’s father Tom Swift Sr., Tom’s sister and Bud’s girlfriend Sandra, Sandra’s friend and Tom’s girlfriend Phyllis Newton, various Swift Enterprises employees, and other officials are all working to remedy the situation. How long will the crew on Nestria be able to survive without supplies? Do the pirates succeed in taking the asteroid? And can they make good their threats on Tom’s life?
At the very first homeschool convention which I ever attended, one of the workshop speakers highly recommended the original Tom Swift books. Tom Swift and The Asteroid Pirates is identified as Book 21 of 33 in “The New Tom Swift Jr. Adventures.” The original Tom Swift books, published by the Edward Stratemeyer Syndicate and attributed to the pseudonym of Victor Appleton but written mostly by Howard R. Garis of “Uncle Wiggly” fame, ran from 1910 to 1941 with a total of forty titles. The Tom Swift, Jr. books, attributed to Victor Appleton II, are an extension of the original series. Tom Sr. has grown up, married his childhood sweetheart, has had two children, and directs the gargantuan Swift Enterprises. His perpetually eighteen-year-old son is now the second generation inventor. The Tom Swift Jr. series ran from 1954 to 1971, for a total of 33 titles. Most of the stories were outlined and plotted by Stratemeyer’s daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, and the texts were written by various writers.
I have never read any of the original series. The Asteroid Pirates has a few colloquial euphemisms (tarnation, consarned, dad-ratted), but these books are basically harmless and would have the same kind of appeal as other Stratemeyer series, like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, etc. Tom Swift would be especially interesting to youngsters who enjoy children’s science fiction adventure novels that emphasize physics, invention, and technology. The second set begins with Tom Swift and His Flying Lab, and The Asteroid Pirates is followed by Tom Swift and His Repelatron Skyway. There have been three subsequent series, in which the main character is also “Tom Swift, Jr.” The third series of 11 volumes was begun in 1981, lasted until 1984, and differs from the first two in that the setting is primarily outer space. The rights to the Tom Swift character, along with the Stratemeyer Syndicate, were sold in 1984 to publishers Simon and Schuster which produced two other Tom Swift series. The 13 volumes of the fourth, published from 1991 to 1993, feature Tom Swift (again a “Jr.”) and are set mostly on Earth with occasional voyages to the moon. The Tom Swift, Young Inventor series, with Tom as the son of Tom Swift and Mary Nestor, the names of characters of the original Tom Swift series, was begun in 2006 and has some half-dozen books published as recently as 2007, for a total of around 103 volumes for all the series.