cover image The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

Michelle Cuevas. Dial, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-399-53913-8

It’s the summer of 1977, and after 11-year-old Stella Rodriguez visits NASA in a fruitless attempt to meet Carl Sagan, a black hole follows her home. Stella names him Larry, and although he tends to swallow everything around him, she realizes that he’s just trying to cuddle. But after he consumes a treasured photo of her late father she explodes in anger, causing Larry to run away. Cuevas (Confessions of an Imaginary Friend) carefully balances an energetic plot full of silliness (at one point, Stella and her younger brother get sucked into the black hole themselves, an escapade that fittingly unfolds in white print on black pages) with more introspective concerns. Stella confronts the darkness literally and figuratively as she weighs the pros and cons of keeping a black hole as a pet: sure, he can swallow up the bad things in life, but he also takes away the good. Cuevas doesn’t skirt the depths of sadness surrounding the death of a parent nor the difficulty of reconstructing one’s sense of home afterward. Sketchlike b&w line drawings appear throughout. Ages 8–12. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.)