Happy Friday! I hope this week has been good for you, Reader. Mine has been busy, which is the norm these days. My third class for this semester started, and while the workload doesn’t look to be too much, fitting another thing into my schedule is a challenge! This week I also had to make my final decision about formally graduating next Spring. I went back and forth on this, again mostly due to the course load it will require, but now the decision is made. (Okay, as I’m typing this a day in advance, I haven’t actually finished deciding and letting my advisor know, but by the time this post goes up I’m sure I will have).
The book review I’m sharing today is over a children’s book I picked for the “series” section of the children’s literature class I am currently taking. It’s a contemporary story from the publisher of the largely historical AmericanGirl books. If you keep up with children’s literature in the USA, this character was the 2018 “Girl of the Year.” She’s friendly, artsy, and knows a lot about space and moon rocks – this introductory book is a fun summer story perfect for just about any chapter book reader.
About the Book
Author: Erin Teagan
Genre: Children’s Contemporary Fiction
Synopsis: Luciana is over the moon—she’s going to Space Camp! But when she’s picked to lead her team in a robot challenge, instead of rocketing her crew to success she steers them straight into trouble. After that, her teammates don’t trust her. In fact, Luci’s pretty sure they don’t even like her. It’s great to be good at science—but Luci learns that it’s not enough. If she’s ever going to make it to Mars, she’s got to be someone her crew can depend on, no matter what.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I grew up with AmericanGirl books, so I had a decent idea of what to expect going into this. Luciana still managed to blow me away! This is a fun story about making friends, being a good leader, and learning from your mistakes – and Luci makes plenty of mistakes. I actually would have liked to see more in the way of consequences for some of her (and her new friends’) behavior, but for the straightforward chapter book that it is, this omission doesn’t take away from my overall rating.
The space camp setting is fun. We get enough details to be able to really see it, but the scientific aspects don’t overrun the story. Even though the story all takes place within a single week, Luci’s character develops well and we get to see the other campers grow as well. They aren’t complex characters, but again, that isn’t necessary for the reading level this book is intended (approximately first to fourth grades or ages 6-12). I do question the reality of one of the secondary characters. Joanna is from Germany, and came to spend a week at a camp in the United States? It’s a cool camp, and I understand that she is meant to be incredible with robots, but the camp doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. It’s impressive and cool but still just a week-long summer camp. The book never even mentions structured lessons or anything specifically educational beyond brief instructions and access to information about the space program and supplies to build robots. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I find it hard to believe that this would be a big enough draw for a family to send their eleven-year-old daughter overseas by herself.
On the whole this is a fun story, and it’s nice to see the “smart girl” as a protagonist who is also artistic and good at making friends. Luci is far from perfect, but she acknowledges her mistakes and takes steps to grow from them. This is a fairly simple book, good for chapter book readers and any young student interested in space or robotics. However, there are not a lot of details about the robots themselves or anything technical. Luciana gets a solid four stars from me. I’ll consider reading the other two books in her series (Braving the Deep and Out of This World) if I need more of this type of book for my Children’s Lit class.
It was a lot of fun to read this book and take a step back from the world for a little bit. I also appreciated seeing how Luci is somewhat aware of the world around her (mentioning historic events related to space, a side plot about her family being in the process of adopting a baby from Chile, and a few other things), but she is still completely a child and naïve in the way that she approaches many situations – which leads directly to the main tension of the book. Reading something a bit more simplistic than what I usually read but more substantial than a picture book or early reader was a breath of fresh air.
Did you go to themed summer camps as a child? Did you dream of being an astronaut, as Luci does?
Until the next chapter,