Reviews for Cosmic

Booklist Reviews 2009 November #2
*Starred Review* Liam is a big lad. So big that strangers mistake the 12-year-old for an adult. Even his teachers seem to conflate tall with old. So heaven forbid he should ever make a mistake. Then it's all, "You should know better, big lad like you." Life sure is hard for poor, burdened Liam (did I mention the Premature Facial Hair?)--until, that is, he decides to enter the Greatest Dad Ever Contest and in short order finds himself on a rocket ship that is off course and 200,000 miles above the earth. Yes, quite a few things--some of them cosmic and all of them extremely funny--do happen in between. Boyce is a Carnegie Medal-winning author, after all (for Millions, 2004), and he knows how to tell a compellingly good story. But in his latest extravagantly imaginative and marvelously good-natured novel he has also written one that is bound to win readers' hearts, if not a clutch of big prizes--though Cosmic was shortlisted for both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize when it was published in England. There are lots of surprises in Liam's story, and without spoiling any of them by saying more, just know that this is not only a story about big lads, but also about dads and dadliness! Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2010 February
An out-of-this-world dilemma

Parents may refer to their teens’ behavior as “13 going on 30.” But in the case of Liam Digby, narrator of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s hilarious new novel, Cosmic, Liam doesn’t so much act like a 30-year-old as look like one. The results are out of this world. Literally.

It’s not just that Liam is tall. There’s the matter of his facial hair, which first becomes an issue during the Year Six trip to Enchantment Land. Liam is the only one in class tall enough for the Cosmic, a ride that generates 4g—four times the gravitational force exerted by the Earth. He loves the ride so much the class leaves without him. When his dad returns, the ride operator can’t believe Liam is a kid. “It’s not his height; it’s his beard.”

From then on, Liam discovers certain advantages to being mistaken for an adult. At a Liverpool shopping center, he passes as Florida Kirby’s dad. They explore to their hearts’ content without security guards thinking that they’re “unaccompanied children.”

And once you have that kind of success, why stop at shopping centers? Why not pop into the Porsche showroom? Why not, come to think of it, respond to a contest for the World’s Best Dad, to win a trip to Infinity Park in China and experience the Biggest Thrill Ride in the History of the World—the Rocket?

Eventually Liam manages to secure a place as the “responsible adult” on the first spaceship to take five kids into space. This is the cosmic experience he’s been waiting for—except for a slight malfunction that causes the Earth to disappear. Luckily, Liam and his crew are not without resources to solve the problem.

Boyce’s previous books include Framed and Millions, which was made into a wonderful film. Cosmic includes a promotional partnership with NASA and a contest in which a family of four gets a behind-the-scenes tour of Johnson Space Center.

Real trips into space won’t be part of the prize, though—at least, not just yet.

Deborah Hopkinson’s new books for young readers include Michelle and First Family, both illustrated by AG Ford.

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Twelve-year-old Liam, tall for his age, is often mistaken for an adult, a fact that he uses when he finds himself in a group of children on the first manned spacecraft since Apollo 17. When things go wrong, some quick thinking by the kids averts a disaster. Likable characters, gentle humor, and the far-fetched adventure will hold readers' attention. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
The popular author of Millions and Framed (rev. 11/06) returns for yet another zany adventure. Twelve-year-old Liam, tall for his age, is often mistaken for an adult, a fact that he uses to his advantage when he finds that he's won a vacation package to what he thinks is an amusement park. He brings his friend, Florida, as his "daughter." Once Liam and Florida, along with the other prize-winning children and their fathers, get off the plane, they find themselves in China, and the amusement park turns out to be a training ground for a rocket launch. The children -- and one dad -- are to go aboard the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit since Apollo 17. Liam ultimately wins the right to be the accompanying parent, but things go wrong in space, and only some quick thinking by the kids averts a disaster. The book opens with Liam in space (leaving an extended message for his parents on a cell phone) and then flashes back to the beginning of the story. The flashback immediately grabs the reader's attention, and the likable characters, the gentle sense of humor, and the far-fetched adventure will keep it. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 December #1
Twelve-year-old Liam Digby is Completely Doomed. He's lost in outer space, incommunicado, in a Chinese spacecraft called Infinite Possibility. To further complicate matters, he's an imposter: a tall-for-his-age kid with premature facial hair pretending to be a dad so he could participate in the secret civilian space flight in the first place--a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style contest in which the winning children get to go on the ultimate thrill ride, an actual rocket. The good news is, the view is amazing: "When you're in it, space looks like the biggest firework display ever--except it's on pause…. Even if you're Completely Doomed, you've got to be impressed." On the heels of the Carnegie Medal-winning Millions (2004) and Framed (2006), Cottrell Boyce has created a riveting, affecting, sometimes snortingly funny "what-if" scenario that illuminates the realities of space travel as it thoughtfully examines the nature of adulthood. Liam's musings on what it takes to be a good, responsible father are dryly comical but also charmingly earnest. A high-levity zero-gravity romp. (Science fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 March/April
Twelve-year-old Liam has never been able to fit in with other youngsters his age. He is as tall as an average adult and has had to start shaving. While he looks like an adult, he doesn't always act like one. He has passed himself off as an adult several times, in particularly as his friend Florida's father. So when the chance comes for him to go into space, along with his "daughter," he jumps at it. This is a cute, if highly improbable, story that will intrigue the younger reader. The reader will be exposed to several scientific principles about space and be entertained with a delightful story. Boys especially may be drawn to the little bits of gross things that happen, such as trying to catch vomit inside the space ship. While this book was originally published in Great Britain, it does not have so many British phrases as to make it unreadable by upper elementary students. Recommended. Patricia Brown, Library Media Specialist, Archbishop Alter High School, Kettering, Ohio ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 December #2

The hero of Boyce's enchanting third novel has grown a bit over the summer. "Seven inches is not a spurt," his father says. "Seven inches is a mutation." Having facial hair and the height of an adult is a nuisance for 12-year-old Liam, until he realizes he can pass for a grownup. The charade escalates into danger when Liam passes himself off as his own father and wins a trip to a new theme park in China with his friend Florida, where they will be the first to experience an out-of-this-world new thrill ride. "The Rocket" turns out to be a real rocket, and the novel opens with Liam and four other kids literally lost in space. What follows is a hilarious and heartfelt examination of "dadliness" in all its forms, including idiotic competitiveness and sports chatter, but also genuine care and concern. Luckily for the errant space cadets, Liam possesses skills honed playing World of Warcraft online--yes, here is a novel, finally, that confirms that playing computer games can be good for you. A can't-miss offering from an author whose latest novel may be his best yet. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

[Page 59]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 February

Gr 5-8--Although Liam Digby is a typical kid who loves World of Warcraft video games and theme-park rides, his physical appearance is closer to age 30 than 12. Looking like an adult is challenging, but it can be useful. He learns about an experimental project to create the ultimate thrill ride--sending a select group of kids into space. He figures that he has no chance to be one of the chosen youngsters, so he decides to apply as the in-flight father chaperone. After recruiting his friend Florida to pose as his daughter, Liam has to compete with three other candidates to get the job. Although he has brushed up on his "dad skills," it isn't always easy to stay in character. The men are pompous, boring--and not above cheating to get ahead. Meanwhile, Florida has very firm notions of how her "dad" ought to behave and she isn't sure that Liam measures up. Eventually, the project director selects Liam for the space flight, precisely because of his "childlike quality," and the project kids start to look to him as a father figure--even Florida. Then, when an accident sends the rocket out of control, Liam has to assume the adult responsibility of getting them all back safely. Beneath the entertaining science-fiction adventure is a strong theme of individual maturity. While the real grown-ups are self-centered and childish, Liam takes charge with surprisingly mature courage. Readers will appreciate the sharp, realistic, and very funny dialogue as well as Liam's technique of solving real-world problems using his role-playing-game expertise.--Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL

[Page 105]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2010 April
Liam, almost thirteen, is tall enough to be mistaken for a grown-up, especially when he sprouts facial hair. His ability to pass for much older leads to some hilarious episodes, some with his friend Florida who poses as his "princess" daughter. Their relationship--as they switch from friends to impersonating father and teenage daughter--is beautifully captured by Boyce. But when Liam receives a text message that he has been selected as a dad for the "Biggest Thrill Ride in the History of the World," he faces his biggest challenge yet. Taking Florida with him, he flies to China where he meets the other contestants--three ambitious fathers and their talented sons. Liam proves that he has the qualities to accompany the children on the "Rocket" into space despite being scorned by the other dads as "childish." He has, he is told, the right attitude because he is ready to learn. Boyce brilliantly captures Liam's voice as he switches from a teen delighting, for example, in the sheer fun of being weightless (he feels like a "Power Ranger") to being the "Responsible Adult." Liam uses skills gained from playing Warcraft and Orbiter IV to guide the rocket back to earth when things go awry. His sense of awe and danger when he spacewalks and his crew's joyride to the moon on a solar-powered ship that looks like an "ice-cream van" are paralleled with fascinating facts about astronauts and the science of space travel. This superb humorous and inventive "cosmic" adventure celebrates space travel, friendships, and dads.--Hilary Crew PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-183686-2. 5Q 5P M Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.