I’m a huge fan of Christopher Edge. Many of his previous books have had a science theme, from inter-dimensional travel to the laws of the universe. His characters, and the unusual situations they find themselves in, stick with you. Christopher’s latest book, Space Oddity, has all the things I love about his stories, with a good dash of humour mixed in.
Jake is always being embarrassed by his dad. Whether he is breakdancing at the school disco or making a surprise appearance as a rubbish Darth Vader at his school production, Jake’s dad just can’t seem to stop doing silly things. When Jake’s dad tells him that the two of them are going away for the weekend to spend some quality time together, Jake can’t think of anything worse. His dad takes him to a Dads and Kids Weekend Adventure, where they will spend the weekend doing fun activities together. However, when his dad embarrasses him in front of the whole camp, Jake is ready to pack it in and go home. Then, his dad tells him who he really is – an alien who crashed to Earth twelve years ago. Thanks to a special device, Jake’s dad has been able to disguise himself as a human and blend in. But, when Jake fiddles with the device, he inadvertently signals the Cosmic Authority. They appear out of nowhere and abduct his dad, taking him back to his home planet. Jake’s dad may be super embarrassing but he is still his dad, and Jake will do anything to get him back.
Space Oddity is an intergalactic adventure with a whole lot of heart and humour. There is something in this story for everyone, from stinky aliens and killer robots, to alien technology and a giant out-of-control Lego spaceship. It’s a story about family and the lengths that we would go to for the ones we love, even if they are super embarrassing. It’s part science fiction, part adventure, but there are also plenty of laughs. I especially loved the range of ways that Jake’s dad has embarrassed him in the past. It’s a slightly younger story than most of Christopher’s other books, but a great way to hook kids into this amazing author.
Jake is a really relatable character, whose voice I loved. Most readers will have a family member who can be embarrassing, so they’ll understand how Jake feels. Jake’s dad hasn’t been able to explain why he gets things so wrong, and when he tells Jake the truth, Jake has trouble believing it. Jake does actually love his dad though, and he can’t bear to think about losing him forever. Jake puts his own life in danger in order to try and save his dad.
The fantastic Ben Mantle has created the cover illustration and illustrations throughout the story. Whenever I see one of his covers I always pick it up, and his cover for Space Oddity is spectacular. The cover designer, Steve Wells, has added some nice touches, with the raised title and the shiny, textured bits on the spaceship.
Space Oddity would be a brilliant read aloud or class set for Years 4-6. It’s funny and action-packed, so it will engage everyone.