Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

cosmicCindy: I’m a big fan of British author Boyce’s books (Millions and Framed) so I was eager to read Cosmic (Harper/Walden Pond Press, 2010) even before it racked up five starred reviews. This one will be even more accessible to American children than its predecessors. The book opens with 12-yr.-old Liam feeling Completely Doomed on a spaceship that has lost communication with the Earth. The story of how he got there and why he is the “adult” in charge of a flight full of kids is a romp. The humor is “cosmic” and the book had a Roald Dahl feel to it with its over-the-top events, contest for participation, pairs of obnoxious children and parents, and a sensible mature boy to root for. I liked the encouragement for children to step up to be responsible if their parents aren’t acting like adults. This is a fun tribute to dads and “dadliness” as well, even though Liam professes that, “Truly, grownup-ness is wasted on grownups.”  I’m so glad that Liam wasn’t really Completely Doomed.

Lynn: I liked this zany book very much too. Liam’s voice was terrific – so earnest and well-meaning and yet still a kid who unwisely yields to some catastrophic impulses. Early in the book, Liam and his friend Florida realize that people are mistaking them for father and daughter. They start out doing things like going into “Newz and Booze” where Florida could browse through the celebrity magazines but of course everything escalates just like Liam’s games. When they got good at Level One they started itching to move up. The inevitable disaster is comedy at its best and of course Liam doesn’t learn his lesson and is eventually entangled in a really serious mess. Throughout the book, Liam reflects on what it takes to be a good Dad. He carefully monitors his father’s conversation and decides that all fatherly conversation can be broken down into five headings:

  1. How we got here.
  2. What the parking was like.
  3. What it was like in the old days.
  4. Something thoughtful which it made you think.
  5. Something to do with last night’s soccer.

Boyce has lots of fun with “dadliness”and Liam eventually learns that he is lucky enough to have a great Dad that he can count on – even if he does like to play Monopoly and struggles with his cell phone.

As much as I liked this book, I don’t think I am as crazy about it as Cindy. I struggled with the pacing a bit. The set-up seemed too protracted and for me the pace slowed way down after the first few chapters. I found I was skimming a bit until the scene moved to China and the action and pacing picked up. It’s a minor quibble though and outweighed by the sweet nature of this charming funny book. Thank you Frank Boyce for a book in which the Dad is NOT a one-dimensional jerk!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce"

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  1. This was a great story to read about–there are truly a dearth of books about Dads! I’m curious to form my on judgments on the story based on the different perspectives shared here. Appreciate the candor…and appreciate the recognition of the importance of “hope”. It’s something we try and do in our books as well.

    Suneet Bhatt
    Co-Founder, Dream Village
    Where Kids Build Better Tomorrows
    View our demo: http://bit.ly/welcometodv

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