With my never ending fear of not being able to read all the books before I die, you will often find me with more than one book on the go – usually 3. This works in a system. I have a bath book (usually non fiction or short stories), a day book (often a hardback or a copy I am determined to keep presentable) and then a bed time book. My bed time book is usually YA or even a little younger, from the 8 to 11 range. I read some of these for work but also just because they are blummin’ good books to be honest, they make me laugh, cry and delight at the great reads young bookworms can get their hands on.
Recently I have read two gems that would be great for those who are interested in science, with one looking at physics and space at a pretty educational level (for the most part) and the other dealing with – well, with aliens, but there is some very good science in there as well! The first book I read was ‘The Many World’s of Albie Bright’ by Christopher Edge. Firstly I have to tip my hat to the artist who worked on this jacket, it really is eye catching and charming, the silhouette of Albie staring up into the glistening sky scape (I do love a foiled cover). Albie (named after Albert Einstein of course!) has two scientific wonders for parents. His father has been so successful at explaining the more complicated goings on in the world of science that he has TV shows and books to his name. He also worked at the Large Hadron Collider, along with Albie’s mother, who may not be recognised in the street like his father but was working on some pretty ground breaking stuff down there. Things all chang pretty quickly though when Albie’s mother becomes sick, and when cancer is found in her body the family quickly move back to England where she can be looked after and made comfortable until she the day she passes away. Since that day Albie’s dad hasn’t been around much, working every second, and Albie has been sent back to school just a week after the funeral to get back on with things.
Now things at school aren’t that great at the moment, there are a couple of his classmates who aren’t exactly being the friendliest of companions, and the one and only best friend Albie has is currently upset about his planned project for the science fair, he had been so excited to do an experiment never done before, until that is, Ablie informed him that it had, just the year before. At home things aren’t much better. The rare occasions that his dad is there he seems to be constantly arguing with his grandfather, who caused friction when he insisted upon a religious element to the funeral and is now arguing that it was working at the Large Hadron Collider itself that caused the cancer. Albie has to find a way to make things better again, and who makes things better, well, his mum does.
Deciding to work with the little knowledge he has on quantum physics, Albie makes a plan to find his mum. Quantam physics say she must exist in a parallel world to our own, so to that world he will head. Aware this experiment would be a whole lot easier if he could talk to his dad about it, Albie realises he is simply going to have to make do, and that as he does not have an expert helping out he will use precautionary measures before trying to launch himself to this parallel universe. His precautionary measure is to send that pesky, postman attacking cat from next door there first! It is clear some of those scientific genes have been inherited as with his mum’s old work laptop, a cardboard box and a rotting banana (seriously, it all makes total sense when you read it!) he is OFF! What Albie didn’t count on is there being more than one parallel universe, the amount actually being limitless, and in each one something is different each time, two moons anybody?! Another unforeseen issue to deal with, another Albie resides in each universe, it is time for him to come to face with…himself!
This is such a cleverly written book, it had me laughing but it also has a real soft centre. The relationship between the three generations of men in this family is told simply but each character is fully realised and has you willing them on to come together and start to heal from the horrible loss they have all suffered. Subtle messages play through out about dealing with grief at a young age, but it never feels like a lecture and it is gently handled amongst all the fun adventures so this never feels like a heavy or upsetting book to read. I would say this is perfect for confident readers aged 9 and above.
The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge £6.99 (Nosy Crow)
And on to the second, ‘Perijee & Me’ by Ross Montgomery. I would say this is for a slightly younger audience than Albie Bright, I think a confident reader of 8 is a good time for this book to be offered forward to story hungry hands! (NOTE – I have added this in after writing this review and looking on the publishers website for this book. They have advised it is for readers aged 12+. Personally I find no content that worries me for younger readers but I just wanted to make everyone aware).
There are some similarities in these two books, for starters both our main protagonists have scientists for parents. This time our story centres around Caitlin, a young girl who lives on a quiet little island with her mum and dad, endlessly positive despite the fact she is making few friends at school, she isn’t doing well academically at all (Caitlin really struggles with reading and writing) and with her dad constantly away working and her mum paying little attention to her, life on this island feels more like prison sentence to her. Desperate for friends she even appeals hopefully to the fisherman, Frank, who takes her over to the mainland on his boat each day for school to see if he want to hang out with her.
One day changes everything for Caitlin and the events that occur bring about a future she could never have imagined. A meteor shower takes place one evening and the next day all appears normal and well on the island, well, that is until Caitlin discovers that the population has increased by one overnight. She comes across a small shape shifting creature who is covered in indecipherable symbols. He eventually settles on a shape that resembles the girl in front of him, welly boots and a bobble hat just like Caitlin likes to wear. Delighted to have a new friend, Caitlin begins to teach the alien to speak and gradually he learns simple words and phrases, and decides to name himself ‘Perijee’. Now not only has she solved her problem of the lonely summer holidays stretching ahead of her with this new best friend, Caitlin realises this is also the perfect opportunity to get her dad back home and spending some time with her – he has researched the chance of an alien species existing his entire life, so boy oh boy, is he going to happy with her find!
The introduction to the family doesn’t go quite as planned. Once the screaming has stopped her dad does indeed see the potential in Perijee and before she knows it he is dashing out to get research materials, promising this will be their project. Her mum really isn’t so keen, she can only look at Perijee as a dangerous unknown who could be putting her daughter at risk by his presence. Her mums fear only becomes clear to Caitlin when within a matter of hours hundreds of soldiers come swarming in to surround Perijee while she is dragged away to safety. Terrified by what is happening Perijee starts changing colour and becoming increasingly larger by the minute, making it hard for the army to pin him down, and before anybody realises what has happened Perijee has escaped.
The story then quickly escalates as Perijee keeps on getting bigger and bigger while the world becomes terrified of this monster and what he could potentially do to them. We are then basically watching a race unfold, can Caitlin get to Perijee before those wanting to do harm to him can? I was completely hooked right until the end of this story and have to confess when one plot reveal happened (relating to Caitlin’s dad) I called a character a very rude word indeed (just in my head though!) For me the whole story revolves around Caitlin and what a total gem she is, honest and refreshingly uncynical. I can see younger readers becoming very attached to Perijee himself though, some tears may be shed!
As this is such a fast paced book I think it would be great for those that have been reluctant readers, the story is addictive and will have them desperate to get to the next chapter to find out what happens. There is enough action and adventure for thrills but it never ventures anywhere too dark or scary for young readers, and the friendships within are really positive examples.
Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery £6.99 (Faber & Faber)
So there we have it, two sciencetastic books for the young reader in your life, both great fun and well written, they are 100% pocket money worthy!