Finn's Rocket is the latest page-turning, high-altitude adventure story in the Finn's Fast Books series.
Review by Carol Anderson, author of Glad, Sad, Sorry
Delightful middle grade fiction about a brother and sister who have an incredible experience during Space Camp at Kennedy Space Center.
The story is well paced and full of twists and turns, a brave rescue in the rip current on Florida’s shores, glacial snow boarding in Sweden, and a very dangerous mission to the abandoned International Space Station where several space tourists meet a fateful end as their commercial rocket blows up.
I recall a course in children’s literature in grad school where my term project was to read all the Newberry and Caldecott award winning books from inception to the then current time. This book could be among them. The fact that it will be as interesting to girls and boys is an added advantage for the author’s marketing plan. I find the International family elements charming as well. I wonder if the Finn books are selling abroad, translated into German, etc.
I visited Kennedy Space Center this spring with 7 and 10 year old grandchildren, the first time in many years, and I could see how excited they were to be there and to learn about the history of the space program. I enjoyed all the descriptions of the paces in the book as I could put myself in various settings. I think the older boy will enjoy this book tremendously. He is more a non-fiction reader than fiction lover and this is so full of interesting space center information, I think it would keep him enthralled.
The main characters we know from other Finn books, but if someone read just this one, they are well drawn, believable. The sister, Gabi, is well evoked with her little girl, emerging big girl self mixture of kid and tween. Taking here “lovie” to camp was charming and very realistic as was the push-pull emotions evoked in wanting to GO to camp, but being nervous about leaving her parents. We see her little girl self struggling with her growing up self in the return trip to earth…I was on the edge of my seat hoping she would evacuate the capsule in time….though I knew she would in the end…a Finn book wouldn’t end badly for the protagonists. I thought the interaction between the nice and mean girls pretty right on. Kids can be cruel to each other especially at that age.
Actually, I thought Gabi was more clearly drawn than Finn, who we know in several iterations. His love for his sister and willingness to go to any lengths to save her is charming and very Disneyesque. This would, by the way, make a great kids movie! Just enough fantastical plot elements but without monsters and transformers. Though Finn and his buddies can drive, go off on their own, etc., we don’t see them in any but a positive light…no smoking, drinking, sex…no girls really but for the top of the mountain and that didn’t get much play.
I thought the characterization of the Commander and nurse were excellent. The antagonist(s) was(were) demented and evil, but pretty human, and damaged by the program.
Get Finn's Rocket, a quick read for kids who love action and adventure.