Frank Cottrell Boyce, . . HarperCollins/Walden Pond, $16.99 (313pp) ISBN 978-0-06-183683-1
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.
Reviewed on: 12/14/2009