Part One: Synopsis, Main Characters, Vocabulary
Chapters One to Eight – Synopsis
Dr. Topham, David’s father, shows him a newspaper advertisement reading: “Wanted: A small space ship about eight feet long, built by a boy, or by two boys, between the ages of eight and eleven." There must be no adult intervention, spare parts must be used, and an address is listed for delivery of the spaceship.
David builds a space ship with the help of his best friend, Chuck Masterson. The boys salvage parts for their homemade ship and take it to Tyco Bass, the advertiser.
- David Topham, who dreams of space flight and wants to “find a little planet just my size."
- Chuck Masterson, David’s no-nonsense best friend.
- Dr. and Mrs. Topham, David’s parents.
- Tyco Bass, inventor, mushroom farmer, scientist, and a resident of the Mushroom Planet.
- Cap’n Tom, Chuck’s grandpop and a sailor.
Vocabulary Study Guide
Here are key vocabulary words from part one. Understanding these words helps children enjoy the book and gain a deeper understanding of it.
- Atomic tritetramethylbenzacarbonethylene – Bass’ imaginary rocket fuel.
- Barometer – instrument to measure air pressure.
- Fluid resinoid silicon – Mr. Bass’ invention to treat the ship’s exterior.
- Pressure gauge – instrument to measure fluid pressure.
- Spore – reproductive organ of fungi. Contrast this with seeds (fertilized plant ovules) to help the children understand the concept of spore people or mushroom people.
- Stroboscopic Polaroid Filter – break this definition into parts to make it easier for kids. A stroboscopic instrument makes moving objects appear to stand still.
- A Polaroid instrument polarizes light as the light waves pass through it.
- A filter is any porous substance, like a coffee filter, that allows liquid or gas to flow through.
Study Questions for Part One
Try these discussion questions for The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. Suggested answers are given.
- Why did Dr. Topham show the ad to David? (He knew David loved spaceships.)
- Where did David and Chuck find the materials for their space vehicle? (They found spare parts.)
- Who is Tyco Bass, and why does he need the boys to build a ship? (His race is in danger of extinction, but only a child can save them.)
- Why did Dr. Topham go to 5 Thallo Street? (He wanted to make sure his son was not being deceived by an adult.)
- How did Mr. Bass discover Basidium-X? (He invented a special filter.)
- What did Mr. Bass ask the boys to do? (To obtain their parent’s permission to fly to the Mushroom Planet and save his people.)
Part Two: Synopsis, Additional Characters, Vocabulary
Readers follow the exciting flight and the boys’ adventures on Basidium. They meet the Mushroom People, who rely on a magic plant for their health. The plants are disappearing, causing the people to sicken and die.
The Great Ta takes the boys to the Place of the Hidden Water to unravel the mystery of the dying vegetation. The key is an ingredient in the water, but they are unable to identify it, although they recognize its odor.
The main characters are:
- Mebe and Oru, Wise Men in danger of losing their heads for not being wise enough to save the Mushroom People.
- The Great Ta, ruler of the Mushroom Planet
- Mrs. Pennyfeather, the boys' mascot; saves the Mushroom people.
- Corona – circle or halo of light
- Igloo-like – resembling or shaped like an igloo
- Spongy – soft or squashy
- Temperamental – unpredictable or moody
- Vector – a variable quantity
Study Questions for Part Two
Here are recommended questions for part two. If students can answer these questions, they can predict the story's ending.
- What did the boys do first after landing on the planet? (Chuck was hungry, so they had a picnic.)
- What does behead mean? Why were Mebe and Oru in danger of being beheaded? (Beheading is cutting off someone’s head. They were going to be beheaded because they failed to save their people from death.)
- What did the boys discover at the Place of the Hidden Water? (The plants obtained a nutrient, vital to the people's health, from the water. The water had a familiar odor, but they could not identify it.)
- Mrs. Pennyfeather plays a vital role; what is her importance? (Her eggs contain the sulfur the Mushroom People need.)
- What happened while Chuck was eating his hard-boiled egg? (He recognized the odor as being sulfur.)
- Who was waiting to meet the boys when they returned to Earth? (Tyco Bass.)
- What did Mr. Bass ask the boys to do? (He asked them to rest, and meet him at 10:00 a.m.)
Part Three: Synopsis, Vocabulary
The boys return home safely and report to Mr. Bass’ house at the appointed time. He is not there, but has left his last will and testament, which makes the boys' heirs to his property and inventions. The boys ask Cap’n Tom to be the president of the Society of Young Astronomers and Students of Space Travel. Chuck finds Ta's necklace, and they stow it in the safe with the Stroboscopic Polaroid Filter.
This final set of vocabulary definitions for The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet helps students understand some unusual words in the final chapters:
- Doldrums – state of inactivity
- Larboard – the left side of a ship
- Kith – friends
- Kin – relatives
- Navigator – the person on ship who plots or navigates the direction
- Windward – the direction from which the wind comes
Study Questions Part Three
Here are the final discussion questions:
- What happened to the ship and necklace? (The ship washed out to sea. The necklace was found on the shore.)
- What did the boys receive as a reward? (They inherited Mr. Bass’ property.)
- Where did Mr. Bass go? (He blew away.)
This book study guide for The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet contains all the important vocabulary terms. The book's plot is explained, and guided discussion questions are provided.
- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, [Merriam-Webster, July 2004}
- The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, Eleanor Cameron, [Little, Brown & Company, 1954]
- Image Credit/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain