CosmicCosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

While this isn’t strictly speaking science fiction, it does involve children going into space, so let’s slap on that label and call it good. Cosmic takes an unlikely premise and runs with it, really making it work both in terms of character development and solid humor. It plays off our ideas of what it means to be a child or an adult and what we expect of each.

Just because Liam is tall for his age (and already needs to shave), people expect more of a “big lad like you.” And when he takes advantage of that in child-like ways (trying to test drive a car, not correcting people who assume he’s a teacher, not a student), the adults around him are extra disappointed, having assumed that maturity went along with his size.

Things really heat up when Liam finds himself pretending to be a dad in order to win a chance to go on the world’s largest thrill ride. There are two surprises – what that thrill ride really is, and how much Liam actually learns about being a dad. Part of what he learns stems from the expectations put on him, but part of it is also that he knows what it’s like to be a kid more than the real dads in the group. This makes it sound like it’s all thoughtful character development, but that stuff gets tucked in between Vomit Comets, comparisons between the real world and World of Warcraft, and quotes from the parenting guide Liam borrowed from his dad. It’s the kind of thing where every other page begs to be read aloud.

I managed to talk my age 10 & up bookgroup into reading this for November – the kid I thought would love it gave it an okay rating, one girl gave it an 8 out of 10, and another hadn’t read it. But we did have a great discussion about kids going into space, what we would do on the moon, and what they would do if they could pass for adults.

Liam is always describing things he loves as “cosmic,” and the book definitely deserves that title.

Source: my library system

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