DiscoverMiddle Grade Fantasy

Space Kids - The Journey of Hope

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Adventurous, exhilarating, and informative. That's Space Kids for you.

Synopsis

The year is 2068. Sophie Williams lives with her mum in a village in Wales. She misses her dad and wants to make him proud.

Space Command has been sending astronauts to distant planets for many decades now. However, no child has ever been into space, and they need to understand how children will cope. They decide to launch a child-only space mission.

After a relentless application process, Sophie is thrilled to be chosen to lead the mission. She is joined by Sahil, a science wonderkid from India, Leena, an incredible pilot from Finland, and Jack, a genius engineer from USA. They are helped by Codey, the latest space exploration robot, and Biggles the dog, who’s main skill is making people feel happy.

The children knew they would be the first kids in space, but they had no idea that their journey would turn into the greatest adventure in human history.

This uplifting story inspires children to believe they can accomplish things that adults can only dream of and overcome the greatest of challenges. It provides us all with hope.

Sophie and a bunch of kids are enlisted on a routine space exploration mission after going through a rigorous vetting process conducted by the Space Command. But mid-way through their journey, they are forced to make tough decisions that could affect the fate of their mission. So, Buckle up alongside Sophie and her space mates to find out whether they surmount the challenges and make it out victorious.


The narration was simple yet captivating. The element of fantasy added zest to the story and it made the reading experience surreal. I loved the fact that the author brought together a group of kids of different backgrounds, all under one roof. Despite the physical and cultural differences, they got along with each other so well and worked as a well-oiled team to ensure the success of the mission. His story is exemplary of the ability of children to accomplish daunting tasks that are deemed to be achieved only by adults. The author's creative juice drips from every single page, as he takes us on a journey to mystical lands which are inhabited by exotic creatures and human-like beings. He gives equal weightage to the characters and that helps us understand them even better. The scientific space terms were explained lucidly for the benefit of young readers. The whole concept of space travel would pique their interest and encourage them to explore more of the subject.


If it could excite a full-grown adult like me, I'm very sure that the children would find it the same way. I hope Alan Nettleton develops this story into a series, wherein Sophie and her friends get to explore even more planets and have a great deal of adventure.

Reviewed by

On a break from reading.

Going through depression/existential crisis.
Trying hard just to stay alive.

Won't be active for another 10 months.

Synopsis

The year is 2068. Sophie Williams lives with her mum in a village in Wales. She misses her dad and wants to make him proud.

Space Command has been sending astronauts to distant planets for many decades now. However, no child has ever been into space, and they need to understand how children will cope. They decide to launch a child-only space mission.

After a relentless application process, Sophie is thrilled to be chosen to lead the mission. She is joined by Sahil, a science wonderkid from India, Leena, an incredible pilot from Finland, and Jack, a genius engineer from USA. They are helped by Codey, the latest space exploration robot, and Biggles the dog, who’s main skill is making people feel happy.

The children knew they would be the first kids in space, but they had no idea that their journey would turn into the greatest adventure in human history.

This uplifting story inspires children to believe they can accomplish things that adults can only dream of and overcome the greatest of challenges. It provides us all with hope.

The Message

Sophie arrived home exhausted. She went straight to her room, dropped her school bag and collapsed backwards onto her bed.

 

She stared at the framed picture of her dad that hung on the opposite wall. He looked back at her with his enthusiastic smile. It was two years ago today that he died. She remembered his last words to her. “Be a force for good, Sophie. Make a difference.”


“Well, I suppose I’ve done my bit today,” she thought. But as she looked at her dad, sadness crept up on her. She couldn’t explain it, but she always felt like she should be doing more. She was supposed to do more.

 

“Sophie, dinner!”

 

“Coming mum,” she called back. Sophie let out a sigh, hauled herself up and wandered into the kitchen. Sophie’s mum was scrubbing the baked-on remains of lasagne from a dish.

 

“Sorry sweetheart”, she said in her warm, Welsh accent, “I got hungry and ate mine earlier. I’ve just heated yours up. Where were you this evening anyway?”

 

“I was helping at the homeless centre again. They needed me to serve the dinners, and then I stayed a bit late to help clean the kitchen,” replied Sophie.

 

“Don’t you think you’re doing too much? It was the fund-raising event yesterday, you were visiting young children in the hospital the night before and last week you were running all those after-school clubs.”

 

“It’s fine mum. You know I like to be busy.”

 

Sophie’s mum wrapped a tea towel around her hand, grabbed the steaming plate of lasagne and peas from the microwave and placed it on the table. The smell instantly made Sophie feel relaxed.


“Darling, everything you’re doing is fantastic and I’m so proud of you, but you need to make time for yourself as well.”

 

“Mum, please don’t start. I’m tired. Honestly, you don’t need to worry about me.”

 

Her mum was worried about her. She admired Sophie’s determination to help people, but she also wanted her to a be more care-free. She remembered how Sophie used to love spending time with friends, chatting and playing silly games. She never did that now. Maybe moving up to secondary school didn’t help. Sophie lost many of her childhood friends that lived closer to different schools. However, she feared that Sophie lost her sense of fun when she lost her dad.

 

The next day, in her school classroom, Sophie noticed a group gathered around a screen chatting excitedly. She normally didn’t take much interest in gossip. She had no close friends at school. To most children, Sophie seemed serious and slightly bossy. Sophie knew she was bossy, but she couldn’t help it. She always had been. She wanted to get things done and she found giving instructions came naturally to her. On this occasion, Sophie overheard the mention of Space Command which grabbed her attention. She decided to approach the group.

 

“Excuse me, what are you all talking about?” she enquired.

 

“Space Command are looking for a child captain for a space mission,” came the reply. They showed Sophie the advert on their tablet.

 

“YOUNG PERSON WITH LEADERSHIP QUALITIES WANTED TO LEAD A CHILD-ONLY MISSION INTO SPACE. PLEASE APPLY.”

 

“Even twelve-year-olds can apply,” said one of the children.

 

Sophie gasped. “Child only? They want children to go into space without adults?”


“Yep! It says they want to train and then observe the best young astronauts for a routine mission to learn how kids will cope.”

 

Goose bumps rose all over Sophie’s arms. She lived in Wales, not too far from the spaceport and Space Command headquarters. She had been past it many times and stared at the large entrance gates. She watched the rockets climbing into the sky from her garden. Maybe this is my chance to make a difference, she thought.

 

For the whole afternoon, Sophie couldn’t stop thinking about the advert. As soon as she got home, she showed it to her mum. “Mum, I really think I could do this. I want to apply. What do you think?”

 

Her mum put her reading glasses on and read it carefully. A frown came to her and she was quiet for a few moments. Then she turned to Sophie and smiled. “Sophie, I know that anything I say won’t make any difference,” she began, “and once you decide to do something nothing will stop you. But I think you’ve had a tough couple of years and it’s about time you did something that you want to do. You go for it, sweetheart.”

 

From that moment, Sophie abandoned everything unrelated to her application for the space mission. She studied everything she could find, copying out a library of notebooks and memorising every fact. She was sent streams of exams and assessments from Space Command. There were essays to write on how she would respond in situations, tests of her ability to remember facts, online group exercises with other applicants, physical tests, memory tests, logic tests. It was relentless.

 

The months went past, until one morning before school Sophie was munching cornflakes at her bedroom desk whilst studying the internal workings of the latest spaceship design. She was interrupted by the ping of a new holographic message from her tablet.

 

Message for Sophie Williams

 

Dear Sophie,

 

Congratulations.

 

You have been selected to lead the first child mission into space.

 

Please report to Space Command at 0830 hours tomorrow, 2nd May 2068 for your first mission briefing.

 

Best wishes

 

Dr Millson

Space Command Mission Designer


Sophie screamed. Her mum came running in to see if she was ok.

 

“Mum! I can’t believe it mum! I’m going to lead the space mission!”

 

Her mum read the message. “Oh, Sophie! Well done sweetheart. I know how much effort you’ve put into this.”


Sophie looked up at her dad’s picture. Tears started to roll down her cheeks, but they were combined with a grin. It was the first time Sophie’s mum had seen her properly smile for many months, maybe for two years. They hugged tight.

About the author

Passionate about books that can captivate and inspire children. Have spent years reading to my own daughters. I think there should be more books that encourage girls in particular to think about science, technology and the environment, and what they could do to lead us into a positive future. view profile

Published on April 18, 2020

Published by

20000 words

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Reviewed by

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