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by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Published by U.S. edition: Walden Pond Press / HarperCollins, 2010
313 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-183683-1

Ages 9-13

Twelve-year-old Liam is often mistaken for an adult because of his size and physical maturity. His parents worry about Liam’s difficulty relating to peers, but Liam knows there are advantages too, like being invited to take the latest model Porsche out for a spin by an unsuspecting salesperson. (Liam’s dad, in the nick of time: “You. Out. Now.”) Liam’s success posing as an adult reaches new heights when he enters a contest for dads and kids—as a “dad”-- to try out a new, secret thrill ride called “Rocket.” One of four winners, he convinces his classmate Florida to play the role of his daughter and after a little deception to explain their absence, the two embark on an all-expenses-paid trip to China. That’s where “Rocket” takes off—literally: It turns out this thrill ride is the real thing. Liam and fashion-obsessed Florida are a striking contrast to the other contest-winners: three smart, over-achieving kids and their high pressure dads. In a story that unfolds largely in retrospect, Liam relates events that brought him to his current situation: inside a rocket spinning out of control in space, the only “adult” on board. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s latest novel is a deft blend of laugh-out-loud humor and immeasurable warmth as it offers up observations about both childhood and parenting, and features characters who reveal welcome—and sometimes surprising—depth. (MS) ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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