I was wondering how my 8 year old son, the youngest of three boys, would react to Frank Asch’s Star Jumper as a read-aloud. I knew he would like the sense of adventure (he did) but the story revolves around an older brother so desperate to leave home because of his incredibly annoying little brother that he builds a space ship (The Star Jumper) in an attempt to put the universe between himself and his little sibling.
My son didn’t even flinch, and the older brothers didn’t say a thing (they often hover on the outskirts of read-aloud). Hmmm. Maybe he is not that annoying, I was thinking, only to break up a squabble later on in the day. OK, then. Maybe they (older boys) are not the cardboard genius types, as is Alex, the main character, in Star Jumper (Journal of a Cardboard Genius). Asch spins a quick tale here, as Alex designs his spaceship and other assorted equipment needed for his adventure (The Atom Slider, the Microblaster, the Duplicator) out of cardboard, assorted plastic parts and … duct tape.
This is the first in a series of books about Alex, and my son and I read this first one in a single day. I sort of wish I had grabbed a few more at the library, but I guess that just gives us another excuse (as if we need one) to head to the library again this week. We both liked the sense of imagination at work, even if Alex comes across as too self-centered and the little brother, Jonathan, is … well … pretty annoying.
In the end, Alex does not launch into space, as he has planned, because another turn of events unfolds (a girl) but I suppose that’s why Asch has written a series here. Star Jumper has a brisk plot, which was perfect for a one-day read-aloud.
Peace (in the stars),