I'm looking for a book from my childhood that I can't remember the name of. It could be from the '80s or earlier.

It takes place on the Moon and follows native Moon people who add the word "moon" to a lot of their language, similar to "smurf" in The Smurfs. I think they were at war with Earth or something and believed the Earth revolved around them.

I remember there is some kind of McGuffin suitcase full of money or something that they are chasing. I remember a scene where some kids are in wilderness survival training and searching for some letters in the woods (I think they had trees on the moon in this story) in some big crater.

I think there was another scene where someone is a clown in the circus and they have an exploding hat. They don't trust the hat is safe but they wear it anyway, and when the hat explodes they don't feel anything, so they don't believe it actually exploded and reach up and burn their hand. It's possible that scene is from a totally different book though.

I also seem to remember this was a series, like they made some sequels about these moon people and their war with Earth.

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    – fez
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 8:00
  • 3
    Why woluld they think the earth is revolving around the moon, when the earth is hanging more or less motionless in their sky?
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 8:56
  • Someone did not realize that the orbital period of the moon is almost exactly equal to its rotational period, clearly.
    – Adamant
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 20:21
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    @user14111 That is not impossible. Assuming the stars are fixed, they can conclude that the Moon is rotating, and might think that the Earth is rotating aroud it at the same speed.
    – Florian F
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 11:14
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    The science in these books is pretty much nonsense. Wings still have a function on the moon. Earthlings take an oxygen pill instead of needing a space suit. Somehow there's trees on the moon. In the first two books I've read in the series they never mention believing the earth revolves around the moon so I'm not sure where I got that from. They also don't insert the word "moon" into nearly as much of their language as I remembered. I have quite enjoyed both of the ones I've read so far. Not sure if that's mostly from nostalgia though. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 0:30

1 Answer 1


Could this be the Matthew and Maria Looney series by Jerome Beatty Jr....? There are a total of seven books in the series, published from 1961-1978.

From Wikipedia:

The Matthew Looney books chronicle the adventures of a brother and sister, Matthew and Maria Looney, who live in the town of Crater Plato, on the Moon. In Beatty's stories, the inhabitants of the Moon are a fully developed non-human civilization. Beatty's fictional Moon inhabitants are an indigenous species, living on the Moon without the assistance of spacesuits, "breathing" vacuum instead of air. A recurring theme in the books is Matthew's desire to know more about outer space, especially the Earth. At the beginning of the series, he looks up in the sky at the Earth and wonders if anyone is living on it.

Similar to most child characters in children's literature, the Looney kids must deal with parents, friends, and rivals, along with the normal array of school-age joys and concerns. Their father works in the "powder factory," but Matthew is captivated by the notion of an exciting career in the military like his uncle, Rear Admiral Looney. Maria, his younger sister, prefers playing sports after school and getting in trouble with her best friend and rival, Hester.

During their adventures, the Looney kids face space pirates, a war between the Moon and Mars, the "discovery" of life on Earth, and the invasion of an Earth circus.

This article offers a decent overview of the series.

Jerome Beatty Jr.’s Matthew Looney’s Voyage to the Earth (1961). With endearing illustrations by Gahan Wilson, this now-forgotten classic of YA sci-fi tells the story of a boy from the Moon who wonders if (scientific consensus to the contrary) there is intelligent life on Earth — and who, despite bullying, political intrigue, and danger, stubbornly sets out to find out the truth. The Moon’s civilization, it seems, is almost exactly like our own, except for that fact that they eat scrambled arks (and burgles with canal juice), measure distance in lunacules and time in moonits, and must be very careful not to jump too high… and go floating off into space. Matthew’s adventure is set against an all-too-Earthlike backdrop of space-race political maneuvering: While scientists like Professor Ploozer stress peaceful and scientific uses for their rockets and missions and probes, the Moonster military and politicians are more interested in developing and testing weapons — which they’d like to use to colonize or destroy the Earth! Fun fact: Subsequent Matthew Looney books include Matthew Looney’s Invasion of the Earth (1965), Matthew Looney in the Outback (1969), and Matthew Looney and the Space Pirates (1974). Matthew’s sister, Maria, is the protagonist of Maria Looney on the Red Planet (1977), Maria Looney and the Cosmic Circus (1978), and Maria Looney and the Remarkable Robot (1978).

The sixth book in the series is titled Maria Looney and the Cosmic Circus (1978). Here's the synopsis.

The arrival of Bill Bailey's circus on the moon means trouble for Maria Looney, especially when it becomes apparent that someone is trying to steal the top-secret designs of the Moon's L-Bomb.

  • 2
    I think you've got it. I'm not sure which book in the series I'm thinking of--most likely the first one. The cover art seems to be bringing back some memories so I think you found it. Thank you so much! Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 16:18
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    I found and read the first book, Mathew Looney's Voyage to the Earth and it felt so darn familiar but didn't have any of the scenes I remembered. Then I read maria Looney and the Cosmic Circus, which did have the scene with the exploding hat, but not the rest of what I remember. I'm pretty sure what I'm looking for is Maria Looney and the Remarkable Robot, as the cover shows her wearing a shirt from a camp so I'm guessing that's the wilderness survival camp I'm thinking of. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 0:25

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