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Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars: 09/14/09

Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars is the first of the Miss Pickerell series of books and the second Ellen MacGregor book I've read. The other one is her delightful picture book Mr. Pringle and Mr. Buttonhouse.

Like Mr. Pringle and Mr. Buttonhouse I was drawn to the book by Paul Galdone's cover illustration. The cover here shows a typical mid-west farm woman standing gobsmacked before a 1950s style rocket ship. Her pose and the general set up of the cover reminds me of one of my favorite B001675ZJC?Backyardigans episodes "Ranch Hands from Outer Space." With that tenuous connection I chose the book to read.

Now as the title implies, Miss Pickerell is the one going to Mars, not the Martians coming to her farm. Her apparently abandoned farm is chosen as the perfect place for a covert government launch. Unfortunately for the mission, she has actually been on vacation visiting her niece and nephew and has just returned in time for the launch. She accidentally replaces the last astronaut, a man who is great at astrophysics but lousy at remembering day to day things like addresses.

Despite the goofy set up, the novel ends up being "harder" science fiction than the two similarly aged Tintin adventures: Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon. It accomplishes this mostly by avoiding discussion of how the equipment works and by the sheer brevity of the work (only 124 pages). The book does stick to the basics: food and beverages in tubes, no atmosphere in space, physical differences between Mars and Earth, elliptical orbits and maneuvering between them and using gravity to your advantage.

Although Miss Pickerell doesn't have the sort of training as the men she ends up flying to Mars with, she does have the sense to listen to them and the smarts to adapt. She holds her own in the book and does end up being a positive contributing member to the mission.

The series:

  • Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars, 1951
  • Miss Pickerell and the Geiger Counter, 1953
  • Miss Pickerell Goes Undersea, 1953.
  • Miss Pickerell Goes to the Arctic, 1954

Completed from MacGregor's notes by Dora Pantel:

  • Miss Pickerell on the Moon, 1965
  • Miss Pickerell Goes on a Dig, 1966
  • Miss Pickerell Harvests the Sea, 1968.
  • Miss Pickerell and the Weather Satellite, 1971.
  • Miss Pickerell Meets Mr. H.U.M., 1971.
  • Miss Pickerell Takes the Bull by the Horns, 1976.
  • Miss Pickerell to the Earthquake Rescue, 1977.
  • Miss Pickerell and the Supertanker, 1978.
  • Miss Pickerell Tackles the Energy Crisis, 1980.
  • Miss Pickerell on the Trail, 1982.
  • Miss Pickerell and the Blue Whales, 1983.
  • Miss Pickerell and the War of the Computers, 1984.
  • Miss Pickerell and the Lost World, 1986.

Source: Wikipedia

Comments (6)

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Comment #1: Saturday, September, 19, 2009 at 13:49:38

S. Mehrens

Wow, I'd forgotten about these books. I read them as a teenager. Thanks for the great review. These are classics. :)

Comment #2: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 16:26:34


You're welcome. I'm glad I saw it at my local library. I hope they have more books from the series.

Comment #3: Saturday, September, 19, 2009 at 17:01:34

Sherry Early

I remember Mrs. Pickerell! Wow, blast from the past!

Comment #4: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 16:33:44


"Blast from the past" has been the most common reaction I've gotten from people when I mention Miss Pickerell.

Comment #5: Thursday, October, 7, 2010 at 20:30:58

L. Murray

First book I ever remember reading when my sisters to me to the library every Saturday.

Comment #6: Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 21:29:03


Thank you for sharing your memories.

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