for Life on Mars
by Jennifer Brown
Arcturus “Arty” Betelgueuse Chambers has been fascinated with the stars and planets, especially Mars, for as long as he can remember. For years he’s been engaged in an experiment to try to signal for signs of life on the red planet. Then his dad loses his job at an observatory and his parents announce they’re moving, to light-polluted Las Vegas. Along with sisters Vega (boyfriend-obsessed) and Cassi (opeia) (cheerleading-obsessed), Arty is shell-shocked. In the coming weeks as the family prepares to move, Arty forges a relationship with their reclusive, curmudgeonly next-door neighbor, Cash. At first unfriendly and distant, Cash turns out to be a retired astronaut, one who never went into space. Cash’s lingering bitterness over this fact fades as he begins to help Arty refine and improve his ongoing experiment signaling the stars. While their relationship follows a predictable arc it is emotionally rich, and, like everything else in Jennifer Brown’s story, explored with a deft blend of humor, warmth, and pathos. When Arty discovers Cash is ill, the pending death of his old new friend becomes the flash point for grief about everything: moving away, leaving best friends Tripp and Priya, even his dad settling for a job that doesn’t relate to his passion. Brown’s story is as entertaining as it is emotionally satisfying. (Ages 9–13)
CCBC Choices 2015. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015. Used with permission.
Twelve-year-old Arcturus Betelgeuse Chambers comes from a family of stargazers and his quest to find life on other planets is unstoppable.
But when Arty's family announces they're moving to Las Vegas, the City of Lights threatens to put an end to his stargazing dreams foreverï¿½especially when he has to stay with his scary next door neighbor while his parents look for a house. As it turns out, "Mr. Death" isn't terrifying at allï¿½he's actually Cash Maddox, a bonafide astronaut! But when Cash falls ill, will Arty find the courage to complete his mission by himself? And might he actually prove, once and for all, that there is life on Mars?
For fans of Frank Cottrell Boyce's Cosmic and Jack Gantos's Dead End in Norvelt comes a heartwarming story of true friendshipï¿½earthly or otherwise.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.