Like the TARDIS, this book for ‘middle grade’ readers is much larger on the inside than it’s external appearance suggests. It’s a surprisingly affecting story of a girl, her birthday party, quantum physics and sisterly love.
It’s the morning of Maisie’s tenth birthday. She’s looking forward to a family party in the garden and presents of the constituent parts of a nuclear reactor (if you’re wondering these would be: a backward wave oscillator, a hydrogen generator and fifty tubes of kitchen foil). In many ways, Maisie is an ‘ordinary’ ten year old, with a surly teenage sister, slightly embarrassing parents and the burning desire to be allowed to walk down to the shops by herself.
Maisie’s birthday morning dawns with sunshine and the promise of her dad’s legendary banana pancakes. Maisie narrates her story with humour and a scientific perspective. Although she’s not autistic, Maisie is intellectually gifted and already studying for her BSc in Maths and Physics at the Open University with a tutor.
But there are two parallel narratives; one in which ‘normal’ events happen, the other which unfolds into a nightmare black hole – quite literally!
Will Maisie be sucked into a black hole? Where has everyone gone? Will her father manage to erect the birthday gazebo? What’s sister Lily’s big secret? What, in fact, is reality…?
At only 155 pages long, this novel packs a hefty emotional punch. Although I read it in its entirety in my lunch break, Maisie’s story has stayed with me. I am urging my son to read it over the Easter break, and look forward to displaying it at work on publication. It has also prompted me to try again to pick up Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time… Not many ‘children’s books’ can do that, AND tug at my heart strings.
An excellent read from Christopher Edge, with chapter illustrations by Matt Saunders, produced by the lovely folks at Nosy Crow. Read it!
ISBN 9781788000291 published April 2018