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|Life on Mars|
Author: Brown, Jennifer
Twelve-year-old Arcturus Betelgeuse Chambers' quest to find life on other planets seems at an end when his parents decide to move to Las Vegas, but while they look for a house he stays with his neighbor, an astronaut who soon becomes a friend.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.00
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 169894
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 64328
Kirkus Reviews (05/15/14)
School Library Journal (07/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (03/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 07/01/2014 Gr 3–6—Everyone in Arcturus Betelgeuse Chamber's family is named for an astronomical object. His younger sister, Cassiopeia, is busy with cheerleading; his older sister, Vega, seems glued to her empty-headed boyfriend; and his dog, Comet, enjoys eating the occasional shoe. Meanwhile, Arty dreams of discovering life on Mars. Together with his best friends Priya and Tripp, whose nickname echoes his perpetual clumsiness, the 12-year-old beams light across the sky at night in hopes of receiving an answer from space—a project for which he can never seem to come up with a good acronym. But big changes are coming for Arty: his family is moving from Missouri to Las Vegas, and his new neighbor turns out to be neither a zombie nor a criminal—as he and his friends speculate—but rather a retired astronaut whose knowledge of the search for extraterrestrial life is matched only by his wisdom about life on Earth. Brown's middle-grade debut combines humor, facts about a high-interest science topic, and the serious issue of the death of an older adult friend. Amusingly titled chapters, some of which end in cliffhangers, keep the pace quick, and a "Fun Facts About Mars" section brings together and expands upon the information scattered throughout the book. The ending, which seems to catapult the story from realistic fiction to fantastical, is puzzling, but overall the story will please middle graders seeking a funny story about a kid who loves outer space.—Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2015 Twelve-year-old Arcturus has carved out his own little place in his loud and eccentric family. He’s also got a couple of best friends, he’s got the deliciously scary mystery of whether Cash, the guy next door, is a vampire/zombie/serial murderer, and he’s got an obsession with space that fills any empty moments. An upcoming move and the discovery that his neighbor’s secrets are actually fantastic (the man used to be an astronaut) rather than horrifying (though he he has terminal cancer) shake up Arty’s world considerably, and Arty is the sort of kid who likes things to stay the same. The secondary characters are mostly there to provide color-everyone in Arty’s family is named after sky features, and the grownups are all slightly peculiar-which shifts the focus quickly to Arty and Cash. It is to the credit of the author that Cash remains fairly grumpy right through to the end of his life; while Arty melts his reserve a bit, their friendship doesn’t miraculously change Cash into a sweet guy. Sure, there are some life lessons imparted from Cash to Arty, but most of them actually come in the form of Arty’s being wise enough to see how he should strive to not become bitter and stuck like his older friend. Space fans will appreciate the nifty little bits of information tucked in throughout the novel and in the end matter, but the likeliest audience is realistic fiction fans who love tales of transcendent old/young friendships. AS - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.