Seventh Grade vs the Galaxy, by Joshua S. Levy, for Timeslip Tuesday

I must start with a bit of a disclaimer--Seventh Grade vs the Galaxy, by Joshua S. Levy, for Timeslip Tuesday isn't a "time travel book."  But time travel does happen in it, getting our young heroes out of a sticky situation....and it having happened once, I'm thinking it might pop again in future adventures (I hope there will be future adventures!).

School 118 is a ship in orbit around Ganymede, which, though it might sound interesting to readers, isn't of particular interest to the elementary/middle school kids who are being schooled there.  Just boring routines of school, made more unpleasant for  seventh-grader Jack by his father's disgrace and the social fallout that's come Jack's way because of it.   But then everything dull and boring is shattered when the ship comes under attack, and  strange "Quarantine" countdown begins. Jack and two classmates, Ari and Becca, sneak off to the engine room to investigate what's happened, and Jack finds that the ship recognizes him, and asks if he wants to "engage."  And with the countdown at its last second, he says the word, and the ship blasts off into space....and Jack finds his father had transformed the school into humanity's first space ship capable of light speed...

Which ends in the school and its kids and faculty being taken captive by an alien race that keeps a tight hold of their known space.  Not a friendly, welcoming hold for young emergent beings like humanity.

Now it's up to Jack, Becca, and Ari, with a bit of help from Ari's hamster, and whoever keeps sending Jack cryptic warnings, to free School 118 from the aliens' clutches and make it back to the solar system. Bluff and chutzpah and luck get them and the ship free of their alien jailers, though their classmates are left behind.  But how can they find the fuel their school ship needs to get home again? (this is where the time travel, a simple amusement in an alien arcade, comes in handy....)

And then when they get home, having saved their classmates and teachers, it's clear that the story of seventh graders vs a hostile galaxy is far from over....

So this has a lot of kid friendly energy to it, from the zero gravity dodgeball of the beginning to the kids putting their computer game skills to work to get out from the aliens control at the end of it.  The dynamic between the three main protagonists isn't tremendously deep, but it's realistic and amusing enough to do its part to keep the story engaging. There's a bit of cool gadgetry for the young tech fan to want badly, lots of humor sprinkled throughout, even when things get tense, and the settling of humanity in Jupiter's orbit is good intro sci fi.

In short, this is definitely a solid pick for the sci-fi adventure loving 8-11 year old (both cover and title are very good indications of the sort of book it is, and kids who like those will like the book!)  There are other sci fi stories for this age with more emotional heft to them (Ambassador, by William Alexander, Last Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson), but this one really stands out for its friendly-ness for kids looking for entertainment, with  kids like themselves saving the day (although this particular day still has lots of saving to come....)

disclaimer: review copy received from the author


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