An easy mistake to make when you’re setting out to write comedy — especially pop-culture inflected comedy — is to focus on the referential and satirical and to neglect, well, the heart of the story. But the best writers know that comedy only works when there’s an anchor for the audience — when there’s a real point of connection and sincerity and care.
One of the things I love about the Astronaut Academy books is that they’re funny, and ridiculously chock-full of crazy pop culture references, but they’re not satire. There’s nothing cynical or unkind about Dave Roman’s writing. And they story isn’t as random and aimless as it first appears, either. As you work your way through Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry, you discover that each character gets her or his own little arc, and nobody is left out in the cold, dark, merciless vacuum of space. (Nobody who doesn’t want to be there, anyway.)
There’s a reason this series has developed a rabidly devoted readership — kids know what good writing is, no matter where they find it.