Review Detail

Kids Fiction 2191
Stargazing
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Ally loves her home. Her family owns and operates a campground in "the Middle of Nowhere, USA." It's a good life, filled with stargazing and studies. She dreams of discovering a comet, something that would have made her late grandfather proud. She likes being homeschooled and working alongside her parents and her younger brother, Kenny. In fact, she enjoys all of it and can't imagine ever living anywhere else. Ally's a happy girl.

Bree doesn't fit in with her family. She loves them and everything, but she's just so different front her physicist parents and her brainy little sister Melanie. Though she appreciates what her parents do and she herself is a bright girl, Bree isn't into science. She wants to be a model when she grows up - or sooner, as she points out to her parents that most supermodels started at age fourteen or fifteen, and she's already thirteen and a half. Bree's an ambitious girl.

Jack has never seen his father. His mom cut his dad's head out of all of their pictures after he left the family. The man went away when Jack's older brother Mike was four and Jack was still in his mother's womb. Jack might seem quiet, but he's very observant. He has watched his mother marry (and divorce) a procession of men, some of which were cooler than others. He is aware that he could be doing better in school. He knows that he is overweight. He enjoys his dreams, in which he feels like he's flying, but when he's awake, he'd rather be inactive. Jack's a lonely boy.

Each of these characters is in for a surprise - or two, or three. Jack gets a cool offer from his science teacher: go on an eclipse tour with a bunch of adults instead of going to summer school. He arrives at Moon Shadow Campground, owned by Ally's family, around the same time that Bree's family drags her there. This book covers two weeks in their lives and details their reactions to each other, to their families, and to unexpected changes and challenges that come about as the eclipse approaches. The book culminates with the historic event, by which time the three kids - along with the girls' younger siblings and Ally's longtime friend and possible crush Ryan - have created an unlikely bond.

The story is related by all three characters in turn, with each speaking in first person for a chapter at a time. Readers get to know the kids as they detail their reactions to each other, to their families, and to the unexpected changes and challenges that come about as the eclipse approaches. They always speak in the same order - Ally, Bree, Jack - and each voice is distinct, with Ally being content yet curious, Bree being headstrong and sophisticated (in her mind), and Jack being cautious and full of self-doubt. Ally, with her scientific mind and family ties, was my favorite, but I liked all of the leads and supporting characters. The descriptions of the eclipse as well as Ally's affection for astronomy will certainly inspire young readers to look up at the night sky with newfound curiosity and respect. Another solid book for middle school readers from Wendy Mass.
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