Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Copyright 2008
Walden Pond Press, a children's division of HarperCollins
Ages 9-12
311 pages

Liam is twelve but he looks thirty and that fact is a bit of a nuisance for him. "You should know better, big fellow like you," people are always saying. Why should he know better merely because he's big? he wonders. At any rate, he's caught between the world of the young and that of adults. And, when he's offered an opportunity to do something kids love but has to pretend to be an adult in order to do so, it's not so much of a stretch for Liam. He's used to pretending to be an adult with his young friend Florida. He's often pretended to be her father; Liam got in a good bit of trouble for that incident with the Porsche.

"Oh, dear." Dr. Drax sighed. "We girls are so complicated. Let's leave Dad to sort this out, shall we? I imagine Mr. Digby knows how to deal with his own daughter."
I don't know what made her imagine that. Florida was actually kicking me now and bawling,"You said we were going to a theme park!"
"We are. This is it."
"It's in the desert. Not even a normal desert. A Chinese desert. In China. You said it was down south."
"It is down south."
"I thought you meant London."
"But we were on a plane for hours. If you're on a plane for hours and hours, obviously you're going to go farther than London."
"I thought it was a slow plane."
A slow plane.

--from Cosmic, page 96

Pretending has gotten Liam in quite a bind, this time. Offered a chance on the "ultimate thrill ride", he has pretended to be the responsible adult in a group of children. The thrill ride? A trip to outer space. But, something went terribly wrong and now they're stuck in space with earth totally out of view.

I won't ruin the potential experience by sharing too much of what happens, but I will go ahead and tell you that this book was just about the most fun a kid can have. Even an old kid. Cosmic begins with Liam noting that he and his shipmates are lost in space and then you find that he's dictating his experience into his rather fancy cell phone. Then, it backtracks to how he ended up in space in the first place and most of the book details the adventure that led to the trip on the ultimate thrill ride and why he and the rest of the children were stuck in space.

There is so much to love about this book that I'm afraid I'm going to forget to mention half of it, but here are a few items of note:
  • Liam is "gifted and talented" and, as such, tends to spout some very informative material. Ha! What a sneaky way to teach kids, making them laugh their socks off while sneaking in bits of information!
  • The author makes some astute observations about children and adults in a way that may possibly cause you to spit out your drink. I would definitely set the book down before taking a drink.
  • Cosmic is hilarious. Did I already mention that?
  • The hero, Liam, is a really good egg, a terrific character.
  • The ending is upbeat and the entire book is delightful.
  • There are some touching parent/child moments and yet the author still manages to make you laugh through most of them. Also, you really want to reach in and give Liam's dad a nice pat on the back (and the rest of the dads the occasional head-slap).
  • The other characters are, for the most part, annoying -- in a funny way, of course. The contrast makes you love Liam even more.
  • There's a whole lot of "clever" in Cosmic. Like, the way the names of the characters fit their personalities (Mr. Martinet, for example) and the way Liam uses his head to solve various dilemmas.
  • The author is English, so the characters are English. Because I'm a total Anglophile, this is a big thumbs-up, for me. But, it's never so British as to be confusing. Another thumbs-up.
"And why is it so sandy?" She seemed to think the Gobi Desert was my fault.
"Because the area in which we are standing was once the seabed of a great ocean that was exposed by a fall in the water level. The rocks and the mountains that were on the seabed have been broken down into sand by the wind over the last thousand million years." . . .
. . . "Well, Mr. Digby, you've done this before. What do you suggest we do now?"
I said, "Wait for the wind to die down?"
"You'll be waiting a long time," said Florida. "It's been blowing for a thousand million years so far, apparently."

--from Cosmic, page 132

The bottom line:

Oh, how I loved this book. There is nothing I like better than a book that makes me laugh and if this book had been around when I was a youngster, I would have reread it a dozen times or more. Also, it's notable that both of my kids experienced the, "You should know better, big fellow like you," thing, as they both reached their full height around the same time as the protagonist. I had to reassure ticket-sellers at theaters and sellers of kids' meals that, yes, that giant critter was younger than he looked. In fact, when Kiddo was 4 years old, someone asked him what grade he was in and he proudly replied, "I'm in Miss Jackie's 4-year-old preschool class!" You should have seen the eyeballs pop.

Also, I love that cover. Don't you just love that cover? It's really eye-catching.

In other news:

Our little Isabel is wounded. Awwww. Apparently, she tried to stop her fall when she plummeted off the back of a chair, earlier today. She split open one of her little paw pads and bled and bled and bled all over the place. I've been instructed by Carol at the veterinary clinic to watch for infection or abcess because there's not a whole lot you can do about minor cat injuries. They lick off ointment and bite off bandages. We did lock the poor girl into the utility room with a super-fresh litterbox, some food and water and a couple of toys until she stopped bleeding, just for her safety (okay, yes, and because my husband was worried about the new carpet -- but really for her safety).

I have 10 pages to go before I finish reading Voice of America. And, we're under a tornado watch. Here I was, thinking we were beyond tornado weather because it's been so nice and cool! Serves me right for thinking. Sending warm thoughts to those of you who are experiencing the winter storm.

Bookfool in muggy weather with injured kitty

©2010 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I just glanced through your review but I added it to my TBR list. :)

    Sorry to hear about your quarantined kitty, but I don't think little red paw prints all over your house makes for a choice photo in House Beautiful. :) However, Isabel may disagree.

  2. Joy,

    I never can predict whether or not you'll like a book but I sure enjoyed Cosmic. It's loads of fun.

    Kitty wasn't quarantined for long, although husband disagreed with letting her out when I did and I'm still finding bloody prints, here and there. She's acting like she's not injured, so she jumps up on on the bathroom counter to drink out of the sink and if I'm not there to lower her gently, her wound bursts open when she jumps down. But, she's not acting at all like she's in pain - no limping, no crying. We're not candidates for House Beautiful anyway, but I'm glad I haven't found any blood on the new carpet!!!

  3. Why can't I find your "Monday Malarkey - with emphasis on recent arrivals"? My blogroll says you posted it yesterday.

  4. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a good read. I hope your kitty is feeling better.

  5. Bonnie,

    I took it down because I didn't like it. I thought it was too much arrivals and not enough malarkey. But, I was tired and decided not to bother fixing it.


    It's a very good read! Kitty is doing fine. She refuses to act injured and her paw looks like it's healing nicely.


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