Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brendan Buckley's Universe And Everything In It

Frazier, Sundee T. 2007. Brendan Buckley's Universe And Everything In It.

It was the first Sunday of summer break, and I was in a hurry to finish my dusting chores fast so I could call Khalfani to ride bikes. I wasn't even thinking too hard about anything, like Dad says I do sometimes. Well, okay, maybe I was thinking a little bit hard. About Grampa Clem and how I'm going to miss fishing with him this summer. Which made me think about the funeral and how the man in the the black robe had said, "From dust we come and to dust we shall return." And then I started looking more closely at the gray particles I was picking up with my dust rag, and I thought, What is this stuff anyway? And where does it come from? And how come it keeps coming back no matter how many times I wipe it away? That's when the science part of me took over. (1)

That one paragraph hooked me. Brendan charmed me from the very beginning. Though that paragraph doesn't give you a full picture, the book shows him to be curious, eager to learn, sincere, and genuine. He's a thinker. But he's also a feeler. I love that I do. I love the way we see the world through his eyes. I am definitely wishing I'd read this one last year so I could have promoted it when it came time to choosing Librarians Choices. Because here's a secret--I SO would have voted for it.

The basics. A young boy, biracial, spends the summer wondering why his white grandfather refused to have contact with his mother after her marriage to his father. A summer wondering why even though they live so close--a quick bus ride away--he's never tried to meet his grandson. The two do meet. By chance. But that meeting tends to produce more questions than answers. Brendan and his family--his mother, his father, his grandmother--are so authentically presented, that it is a joy to read. (What do I mean by authentic you're wondering? They felt real. They felt human. They seemed to be so fleshed out, so genuine, that it didn't read like fiction.) A book full of questions kept in a young boy's journal. A book that searches the universe for a few answers. In case you didn't guess, I did love this one.

This is a boys' book, by the way, and I didn't love some of the details. The contest between two friends to see who could pee the most into their mountain dew bottle didn't thrill me. But then again, I'm not in the target audience range. I think this one works. And I am so happy to recommend it to others!!!


198 pages

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