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Andrew J Harvey
Crisis at Calista Station
Tania is tired of not having any friends because, every time her mom changes her job, they have to move. But then her mom gets the job as the security officer on Calista Station, and Tania meets Mark, and his friends Windracer, and Shr’un. When Shr’un’s father and Tania’s mom disappear, it is up to Tania and her new friends to solve the mystery.
Harvey’s imaginative second middle grade science-fiction outing (after Trouble on Teral) tells of a group of friends from across the universe and their great escapades on a space station. Thirteen-year-old Tania Martin is used to moving regularly for her mom's job with Malachi Mining, but this move is especially significant: for the first time, she’ll be temporarily living in space on Calista Station. Shortly after arriving, Tania makes friends with Mark Spender, his Terek friend Windracer, and Shr’un, a Hspk. When artificial intelligence throughout the station begins to malfunction, Shr’un’s father, Sh’man K’valth, also disappears. With the help of his father’s portable AI, the group of kids set out to find Sh’man and save themselves from the people behind it all.

Young readers will relate in many ways to the characters Harvey has created and the narration, which is largely from a 13-year-old point of view. Harvey does a great job showing how the characters would view and respond to different situations, often in ways that adults wouldn’t. The group is nicely varied, including kids from multiple planets that are at different levels of learning how to adjust to, maneuver, and live in a zero-gravity environment. Realistically, they also continue to worry about normal kid concerns like getting in trouble with their parents.

What could have been complicated to explain, Harvey makes easy, clearly describing the steps taken and equipment needed to move around in zero-G. The author describes every twist and turn, every movement, and every view in a clear way that makes it easy for young readers to imagine the action. Standout settings include a beautiful garden within a space station that practically beckons readers to join the characters in their playing and relaxing in and around the trees. Although some of the smaller scientific details of how things work will be hard for some young readers to understand, that won’t keep them from engaging with the story. This book will appeal to middle grade sci-fi readers with its blend of mystery and fun, exciting space trip.

Takeaway: This book will appeal to middle grade sci-fi readers with its blend of mystery and fun, exciting space trip.

Great for fans of: Stuart Gibbs’s Space Case, Bruce Coville’s My Teacher Is an Alien series.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A-