Reviews for Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It

Booklist Reviews 2008 January #1
Mixed-race Brendan Buckley is fascinated by science, and he likes to find the answers to questions that he poses in his notebook. Brendan finds that life isn't alwaus easily explained, however, after he meets his grandfather for the first time at a rock club meeting. Brendan's white grandfather has been estranged from Brendan's mother since her marriage to an African American. Despite Brendan's mixed parentage, he bonds with his grandfather through their shared interest in rock collecting, and they continue to meet secretly until Brendan's mother finds out. It takes time and a serious accident for Brendan's grandfather to come to his senses and reunite with his family. By frequently lightening her tone, Frazier delivers her messages without using an overly heavy hand. Brendan is a real kid with a passion for science and also a willingness to push his parents' rules; he's not just a placard for the author's central message. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2007 November
The mysteries of family

In most ways, Brendan Buckley is not unlike other 10-year-olds. He likes sports (he's a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do), enjoys hanging out with his friends (especially riding bikes with best friend Khalfani) and is super curious about everything. In fact, he even has a confidential notebook in which he lists both his top-secret scientific discoveries and his as-yet unanswered probing questions.

But as a child of mixed race, Brendan has always known he is different and has often pondered his heritage—"Am I white? Am I black? . . . Why do some people just not understand?" Those are just some of the mysteries Brendan records in his notebook and strives to solve.

Young readers will be readily drawn into Brendan's active life, especially after a serendipitous turn of events changes everything for him. A budding rock hound, Brendan attends a mineral convention and meets Ed, the grandfather—the white grandfather—he never knew he had. As Brendan dons his detective hat, the story follows him on his quest to uncover the hidden history behind Ed's absence.

In her first novel, author Sundee Frazier is careful to draw Brendan as a well-rounded character with both silly and serious sides. She weaves suspense into Brendan's search for self and throws in a bit of science along the way. Readers, even reluctant ones, will read on to see where Brendan's journey will lead.

Frazier, an author of mixed race, is well poised to pen this tale of self-realization and acceptance. She adeptly uses analogies that younger readers can relate to—such as comparing mixed race to the delicate combination of white and black minerals that enhance the beauty of a rock.

Science may not be able to explain all the questions in Brendan's notebook, but it becomes the driving force in his search to discover who he really is. And in the process, he gains not only a new hobby, but a newfound family dynamic as well.

Sharon Verbeten is a freelance writer and former children's librarian from De Pere, Wisconsin. Copyright 2007 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 September #2
Ten-year-old Brendan Buckley, future scientist, expects to have a busy summer, between practicing Tai Kwon Do, spending time with his parents and paternal grandmother and writing in the notebook he fills with all of his questions and their answers. Then he runs into his maternal grandfather, Ed, at a rock-and-mineral show. They've never met before, and all Brendan knows is that his mother won't talk about why. Initially unsure, Brendan decides to get to know his grandfather in secret. When they find out, his parents reveal that it is Ed's bigotry concerning mixed-race couples--Brendan's mother is white and his father is black--that has resulted in his absence. No stranger to racism, Brendan attempts to answer the question of why anyone would feel this way, as he simultaneously tries to find a way to bring his family together. Brendan is an appealing character with a sense of honor, and if the ending is a bit pat, Brendan's curiosity and intelligence compensate. A good, accessible selection to inspire discussion of racism and prejudice. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 January
Brendan is an ordinary 10 year old interested in scientific discoveries, collecting rocks, and Tae Kwon Do, but readers soon discover that some people in town view him differently because of the color of his skin. The fact that Brendan is biracial has never affected him, until he discovers his long lost grandpa at a rock collecting show, and learns the real reason why he has been absent all these years. Grandpa Debose did not accept his daughter's marriage to a black man, and Brendan's mom has not spoken to him or about him since. Using his top secret notebook for scientific discoveries, Brendan writes down questions he cannot explain and sets out to prove why Grandpa Debose did not accept his dad because of his skin color. Biracial readers, and others, can easily identify with Brendan and his quest for answers to life's sometimes unanswered questions about racism and acceptance. Sundee Frazier's own experiences as a biracial child help to further enrich the storyline and characters. This book is a great resource for biracial students and others who are trying to find a sense of belonging. Recommended. Jill King, Media Specialist, Hardy Elementary School, South Lyon, Michigan © 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 October

Gr 4-6-- Brendan Buckley is fascinated by rocks and minerals. While at the mall with his grandmother, he comes upon a mineral show and begins talking to an older man who's the president of the local society. Brendan wants to join, but when his grandmother, Gladys, sees them together, she drags him away. It turns out that Ed DeBose is the grandfather he's never met. Ed and Brendan's mom are white; his dad and Gladys are black, and Brendan has grown up as a black boy. No one in his family will talk about the man, especially his mom, who grows furious whenever her father's name is mentioned. So Brendan decides to find Ed and ask him what happened--and to do it without anyone in his family finding out. This is an absorbing look at a 10-year-old boy who has never had to deal with race and prejudice, who collides into years of anger and hurt in his family and must create a new identity for himself. Although the story occasionally veers into sentimentality, Frazier writes affectingly about what being biracial means in 21st-century America.--Walter Minkel, New York Public Library

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