COSMIC by Frank Cottrell Boyce

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Liam has always looked old for his age–really, really old for his age.  In fact, as the only six-foot-tall, bearded twelve year old he knows, he is frequently mistaken for a parent or a teacher.  At first, Liam finds his grow-up appearance to be an annoyance–a reason for kids to make fun of him–and mostly spends time on his own, playing World of Warcraft.  But when his parents encourage him to go out and make friends, he discovers that looking grown up can have its advantages.  Which is how he has the opportunity to ride the terrifying, gravity defying Cosmic at the amusement park.  And how he and Florida, posing as father and daughter, almost get to test drive a Porche at the car dealership (until Liam’s dad catches them at the last minute).  But when Liam finds out about a contest to win the ultimate trip to a new amusement park in China, he becomes Florida’s “dad” once again as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  And that is how they end up lost in outer space, and this time, Liam’s dad is nowhere near enough to save the day.

This science fiction novel is funny and poignant, in some ways reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Throughout his “dadly” adventures, Liam learns a lot about what it means to be a parent vs. a kid, and ultimately discovers that even the greatest adventures are not worth as much as his own dad’s love.    I highly recommend this one to middle grade and teen readers.  It would also make a great family read aloud to older elementary age kids, as parents are sure to enjoy it, as well!

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