Saturday, August 28, 2021

Stowaway by John David Anderson Blog Tour


Science fiction is a powerful genre. It allows our minds to travel into the unknown - exploring the things we think or believe may one day be possible through science. While we are there, we can contemplate philosophical and moral issues from our own day, but from the safety of a future "what if" scenario. Back in my very early blogging days (2012 seems like a lifetime ago, right?), I posted about the power of "what if" and science fiction. There are not nearly as many science fiction books published for middle grade readers as there should be!

I've loved every book I've read by John David Anderson, so when I heard that he was putting out the first book in a science fiction duology for middle grade readers, I jumped at the chance to read an ARC and share my thoughts about the book. 


Here is the publisher's summary:

About the Book:

The beloved author of Posted and Ms. Bixby's Last Day returns with the first book in a coming-of-age sci-fi duology about Leo, a kid trying to navigate the galaxy in order to save his family—and, possibly, the planet Earth.

When scientists discover a rare and mysterious mineral buried in the Earth’s crust, they have no idea that it just happens to be the most valuable substance in the entire universe. It’s not long before aliens show up to our little corner of the galaxy offering a promise of protection, some fabulous new technology, and entry into their intergalactic coalition—all in exchange for this precious resource. A material so precious that other alien forces are willing to start a war over it. A war that soon makes its way to Earth.

Leo knows this all too well. His mother was killed in one such attack, and soon after, his father, a Coalition scientist, decides it would be best for them to leave Earth behind. It’s on this expedition that their ship is attacked, Leo’s father is kidnapped, and Leo and his brother are stranded in the middle of space. The only chance they have is for Leo to stow away on a strange ship of mercenary space pirates bound for who knows where and beg the captain to help him find his father.

But the road is dangerous, and pirates, of course, only look out for themselves. Leo must decide who to trust as he tries to stay alive and save his family, even as he comes to understand that there aren’t many people—human or alien—that he can count on in this brave new universe.


My Thoughts:

I was the kid who made up and drew aliens in elementary school. I was the kid who brought home so many books about astronomy- and got my first paycheck for writing a review of one for a children's magazine. I was the kid who claimed to be "from Saturn" when my friends pointed out my weirdness. My inner child was delighted by this book. I haven't drawn anything in *coughs* quite a few years... but I was itching to pull out a set of colored pencils so I could draw some of the aliens I met along the way. 

Middle grade readers looking for an adventurous romp through the galaxy will love the energy and pacing of this tale. Readers who enjoy witty interactions between the cast of characters will find rewarding repartee in every chapter. Do they love figuring out little mysteries? Stowaway's story gives them the chance to piece together what happened on Earth through flashbacks. It also builds in a little surprise that some of those readers may not have anticipated, but will give others that satisfying "I KNEW it!" moment. 

Some students will be drawn to the tech and science in Stowaway. Maybe they'll decide to investigate more about the possibility of faster than light travel. Maybe the idea of new elements that could power our future will catch their eyes. Conservation minded kids will notice themes that weave throughout the tale - on Earth and on many other planets described and visited. 

Are you a teacher thinking of adding in a science fiction read-aloud in your elementary classroom this year? Stowaway would be a wonderful choice to introduce the genre, but will also engage and satisfy students who already love science fiction! You'll also find many "old Earth references" to entertain you and your class along the way.  



About the Author:
John David Anderson is the author of many highly acclaimed books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, One Last Shot, and Stowaway. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife, two frawesome kids, and clumsy cat, Smudge, in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.


My personal side note "about the author". This is one seriously geeky guy. In ALL the best ways - and I mean that. He's taken time to connect with my students. He cracks me up. And I think he shares about 90% of my childhood and adolescent SciFi Fandoms. If you want to see what I mean, check out this post he wrote for Nerdy Book Club about the seeds of fandoms that helped him grow into writing Stowaway. Star Wars -- check. Wrinkle in Time -- check. Douglas Adams -- check.... Last Starfighter..... Okay, you get the idea. 


Check out other books by John David Anderson that I've posted about on my blog: 

Disclaimer: I received free access from the publisher to a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts about the novel.

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