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On the edge of my memory, a 1960's children's book about a group of boys being taught to build a spaceship by an unusual neighbor. They learn the neighbor is from Mars, and eventually take a trip there to fulfill his mission.
One odd detail I remember is that the boys capture a jar of Mars air, so that when they returned, their neighbor could breath that air again.

Anyone know the title?

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  • Stick around. I know this one.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 23, 2020 at 22:34
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    Apr 23, 2020 at 22:36

1 Answer 1

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The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron, published in 1954.

Front cover of *The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet*

When two boys find an ad in a newspaper asking for two young boys to build a spaceship, they quickly construct one out of old tin and scrap wood, and bring it to the advertiser. This man is the mysterious Mr. Tyco Bass, an inventor and scientist. Using his marvelous stroboscopic polarizing filter he shows the boys a previously undetected satellite of the Earth, which he calls Basidium-X. He refits their spaceship, giving them some special fuel he invented to power it, and tells them to fly to the mushroom planet (after getting their parents' permission). He warns them that their trip will only be successful if they bring a mascot.

When it is time for launch, they grab David's hen, Mrs. Pennyfeather, at the last moment for a mascot, and rocket into space. They find the planet of Basidium to be a small, verdant world covered in soft moss and tree-size mushrooms. They quickly meet some residents of the mushroom planet, small men with large heads and slightly green skin, of the same people as the mysterious Mr. Bass. They tell the boys that their planet has had a crisis and that everyone is slowly dying of a mysterious sickness. The boys meet up with the king of the planet, the Great Ta, and end up solving the natives' problem, before returning to Earth.

This review mentions the jar of air:

.... Did I mention they nearly forgot the jar with the air before leaving Basidium as well? It’s stuff like that. It’s one thing if they forgot the little things here and there, but it felt that these very important things, the boys were irresponsible or not holding them in regard. Really, though. Making sure you have the jar that you launched a spaceship to a planet for in the first place?

This was a book I read as a child, and a frequent query on this site. It's my go-to when someone remembers an older book about children going to another planet on a spaceship they built.

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