If you made a recording to be heard by the aliens who found the iPod, what would you record?
For 11-year-old Alex Petroski, it's easy. He records everything. He records the story of how he travels to New Mexico to a rocket festival with his dog, Carl Sagan, and his rocket. He records finding out that a man with the same name and birthday as his dead father has an address in Las Vegas. He records eating at Johnny Rockets for the first time with his new friends, who are giving him a ride to find his dead father (who might not be dead!), and losing Carl Sagan in the wilds of Las Vegas, and discovering he has a half sister. He even records his own awful accident. Cheng delivers a sweet, soulful debut novel with a brilliant, refreshing structure. His characters manage to come alive through the “transcript” of Alex’s iPod recording, an odd medium that sounds like it would be confusing but really works. Taking inspiration from the Voyager Golden Record released to space in 1977, Alex, who explains he has “light brown skin,” records all the important moments of a journey that takes him from a family of two to a family of plenty.
Riveting, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious. (Fiction. 10-14)