Written by Bev Smith
Published by ACS Books
Publication date: 29th November 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
Twelve-year-old Esme’s best friend is an alien called Stella. When Stella returns to Planet Kratos, Esme – fed up with her mum’s new boyfriend – stows away on the spaceship. So begins Esme’s adventure into a world beyond the stars. A world of strange creatures, thrilling journeys, heroic rescues and instant fame. Oh, and school. Lots of school.
Along the way she discovers that friends may be greener on the other side, but they still can’t be trusted. Locked up, millions and billions of light years away from Earth, she sets in motion a plan to escape from Kratos. Unfortunately for her, the aliens aren’t about to let their prize exhibit go anytime soon…
So, I guess you’ve noticed I’m missing? You’ve probably asked my teachers and kids at school where I am by now. Well, they’re telling the truth, I’m not with them.
You see the thing is, I’m actually in outer space. Don’t panic though, I’m having a blast!
So, anyway, I was abducted by aliens. Although I allowed myself to be abducted so, technically, I ran away.
I miss you much more than I thought I would, but I don’t miss your boyfriends. Especially the latest one. To be honest, most of the stuff which used to upset me doesn’t seem so important now that I’m millions and billions of light years away from home.
First impressions: This is such a unique idea! I was drawn in by the synopsis so was very excited when it dropped through my door. I had only intended to pick it up and have a quick look through…but then ended up reading the whole thing in one go!
Esme decides to run away after a particularly bad day, the latest in a series of bad days which have left her feeling trapped and unloved by her family. Most children run away to a friend’s house or a nearby city, but Esme runs away to another planet!
I think that everyone can relate to the feeling of wanting to run away – some of us may even have tried it as children (although I never made it very far!) Her strange friend, Stella, offers her the chance to escape everything that she is finding hard at home, by accompanying Stella back to her home planet.
Esme jumps at the chance and things happen very quickly. Life on Kratos seems almost idyllic at first, despite having to go to school straightaway, but Esme soon finds herself missing some aspects of home, especially the family that she felt crowded by when there.
I liked how she handled herself when things didn’t go to plan, using her wits to come up with a solution to make her way back home.
This was a really fun experience and I will definitely be looking out for more from this author!
I’d left to put some space between me and my family, but then realised it was the opposite of what I needed.
And it was the wrong kind of space.
What I liked: Strangely enough, I really enjoyed Esme’s sign-offs at the end of each blog post – they were really quirky and added lots to her character in just a few words. I found myself trying to anticipate what she would use and wondering if she might run out…
I liked the messages in the book, as both aliens and humans learn about themselves and each other, sparking a discussion about the things we have in common rather than the things which divide us.
The short chapters and chatty tone made this an engaging and interesting book – I inhaled it in just one sitting, despite having only intended to have a quick flick through!
Even better if: While I found Stella quite an enchanting character, at times her speech seemed unnecessarily convoluted (I know that the point was that she practically swallowed a dictionary!); While I personally quite enjoyed it, this could prove to be a barrier for younger readers.
Esme seemed very fixated on exact numbers. While this illustrated some of her personality, I also found myself wondering how she would know that the spaceship (when shrunk) was exactly 43cm tall, etc.
I would have liked to see more of how Esme’s life changed at the end, based on the realizations and character growth she experienced in the book.
How you could use it in your classroom: This would be a fun, thoughtful read for young readers aged 8+ who would enjoy an intergalactic adventure with heart! I could see this being popular with my Year 3s (age 7-8) because of the chatty style of the blog posts and the short chapters. There are quite a few messages which could be great discussion points in a classroom e.g. the importance of family, tolerance of others and their different views and the similarities/ differences between the aliens and humans. Do any differences make it okay for one to treat the other as an object of scientific interest rather than a person, with thoughts and feelings? Our Year 5s study Space as a topi so I will recommend this as a book that could be read and enjoyed alongside that.
(Thanks to the author and Rachel’s Random Resources for my review copy)
About the Author
Bev Smith has been a secondary school teacher, saleswoman, waitress, wages clerk, youth worker and holiday park entertainments manager. She has scuba dived the Barrier Reef, lived in a village in Namibia, worked for a charity in Thailand, flown over Victoria Falls and paddled in the sea at Bournemouth.
Having single-parented her three daughters, she’s been ferociously playing catch up with this writing lark. She recently completed a Masters in Writing for Children at Winchester University. #galaxygirl is her debut middle-grade book.
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