Monday, May 16, 2011

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow – Nathan Bransford

Publisher:  Dial
Pages:  288
Source:  Early Reviewers Copy from LibraryThing
Genre:  Middle Grade, Adventure

I have been a follower of Nathan Bransford’s blog, for a little over a year.  When I learned he had written a book and it was  in the early reviewers giveaway at LibraryThing I had to try.  I was thrilled that I won a copy for review.  Normally I review things pretty quickly.  However, we had a read-a-thon at school and I had brought several books.  Many of my students didn’t have a book or had finished theirs and I ended up loaning them my books.  I sat down Saturday night and started the book and finished it Sunday morning.  It was wonderful.  I loved the book for many reasons that I will try to explain.

Jacob Wonderbar is your typical sixth grade student.  He feels his job is to distract substitute teachers from the lessons.  As a teacher and a former substitute teacher I’ve met many kids like Jacob.  Jacob meets a sub he is unable to tame or make run in terror.  Mrs. Pinkerton knows who he is.  He unfortunately gets sent to the principals office along with his best friends Sarah and Dexter.  Things don’t go well for him.  His mother has been called and he is grounded.  Sarah and Dexter go to Jacobs house to find out his punishment when they witness a silent explosion.  They go to investigate.  In the forest they discover a spacecraft and a man dressed from head to toe in silver.  He offers to trade his spaceship for a corndog.  Jacob jumps at the chance to buzz around space and makes the trade.  Once in the ship with his friends the ship takes off.  When he overrides the ships automatic system he creates havoc in space and breaks the universe.  This event leads to a run in with space cops, a pirate, a planet of scientists, the planet Numonia,  where a day is one minute long and a planet full of substitute teachers who all know of Jacob Wonderbar.

I laughed at Jacob’s antics.  I was actually picturing one of my students as Jacob.  All teachers have a Jacob  in their classroom.  They are usually one of the more intelligent, lively students.  I loved the character Sarah.   She reminded me of some of my international students.  Their parents have them in tutoring before and after school.  If a special program is offered, no matter what the subject matter their child goes into it.  They have expressed a desire to just have a little free time for themselves.  They have turned out to be some of my biggest readers.  It is their form of escape.  Dexter is that kid that seems to always be picked on and needing rescued.  But, let someone go after his best friend or something he really loves or wants and look out.  I recently had a student who has said very little all year that wasn’t associate with the lesson, stand up to another student about something he was extremely passionate about.  The other teacher in the room and I stood and looked in awe.  It gave me hope that kids like Dexter will survive in the world because they have their passion hidden inside of them.  This is a book I didn’t want to end.  I want to find out more about Dexter’s dad and what adventures he has before him.  I know that there are one or two more books coming in this series and I can’t wait to read and review them.  This is one of those books of which  I will need to purchase several copies because they will not be on my shelves for long and will be read until they fall apart.  Well done Nathan and I wish you much success with your future books.!

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