Book Review: Clues to the Universe by Christina Li – A Quiet Middle-Grade about Science, Grief, and Searching For Lost Fathers

Clues to the Universe byC
Blurb:

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

I was provided an eARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

I’ve always loved ‘quiet YA’ – young adult stories that aren’t about saving the world but are about the mundane yet meaningful low stakes that focus on the growth and emotional journeys of its characters. Well, if you love quiet YA just as much as I do, may I propose ‘quiet MG’? Though a lot of contemporary MG feels like quiet MG – stories about a young person’s growth as they overcome an everyday conflict that leads them to learn something about themselves – there’s something about Clues to the Universe, the debut middle-grade book by Christina Li, that feels like your quintessential quiet MG. And friends, I adored Clues to the Universe, and I’m excited to tell you why.

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Our Friend is Here: An Author Interview with RoAnna Sylver, Author of Stake Stake – On ‘Dys-hope-ia’, How Hope and Horror are Intertwined, and Honouring Corey Alexander

Our Friend is Here: An Author Interview with RoAnna Sylver, Author of Stake Stake - On 'Dys-hope-ia', How Hope and Horror are Intertwined, and Honouring Corey Alexander

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

If you love the idea of fantasy stories that are about holding onto and fighting for hope, despite being in the darkest and grimmest of places, gorgeously queer and disabled characters of colour, then I’d like to introduce you to RoAnna Sylver.

RoAnna’s books are difficult to define – and by that, I mean that their stories push the fringes of genre. For instance, Chameleon Moon is a dystopian story with superhuman characters (that are delightfully queer and polyamorous) that fight against an oppressive, all-seeing police force with love, hope, and resistance. Their other series, Stake Sauce, which you’ll learn more about today, is a supernatural story wherein a punk-rock vampire and disabled cop-turned-security-guard team up to fight a great evil – and maybe fall in love and heal each other too.

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Our Friend is Here! – A Story with Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Author of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of the Universe; On Ghosts, Día de los Muertos and Sia Martinez

our friend is here raquel vasquez gilliland the quiet pond dia de los muertos sia martinez and the moonlit beginning of everything

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Earlier this year, as we were planning our Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond event, Skye mentioned that she really wanted the author of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, to visit us. Curious, I went ahead and picked up a copy of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, not really knowing what to expect – but goodness, I have absolutely no regrets going into it without reading the blurb, because I thought Sia Martinez was spectacular.

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Monthly Wrap-Up & Story-Time: October 2020 & Story Time – The Pond Friends Celebrate Pond-O-Ween!

It’s the last day of spooky season, friends! And that means… it’s finally Pond-O-Ween! Last year, the Pond friends celebrated Pond-O-Ween and dressed up in costumes handmade by our favourite toad, Varian. This year, the Pond friends are back with new costumes, and we are so excited for you to see them.

Seeing that it’s the last day of the month, we thought we would combine Pond-O-Ween with our Monthly Wrap-Up. We haven’t had a Story-Time post in awhile, and Joce wrote this year’s Pond-O-Ween post – and I know all of you are going to love it as much as I do.

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Happy 2nd Blog Birthday to The Quiet Pond! – In Which Xiaolong Redecorated the Pond and We Do a Fun Q&A (Blogging Tips + Us Being Chaotic)

It’s been awhile since you’ve visited the Pond.

As you pass through the Pond’s magical boundary, you notice that things here look… different. Pickerel weeds, lavenders, and rosemary now adorn the Pond, and it looks like cattails and cardamine now grow by the Pond’s water. But, you realise, even though the Pond looks a little different, you can still feel the gentle and calm energy in the air – it’s still the Pond, after all.

“Friend!” calls a familiar voice. “Come over here!”

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