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Ben Gartner
One Giant Leap
Ben Gartner, author
“I'm pretty sure I'm about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.” Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It's a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!
The hero adrift in Gartner’s tense and thoughtful middle-grade space odyssey floats between lofty expectation and grounding reality before taking his first big step toward adulthood. When 12-year-old Finley Ridley Scott receives the Package of Destiny, he’s surprised that the StellarKid Project acceptance letter was delivered by snail mail. After all, it was sent by Axis Space, the private space travel and tourism company that created this innovative program, which will transport exceptional 10 to 15-year-olds to the International Space Station, and Gateway, their base orbiting Earth’s moon. Fin feels like he’s won the lottery, but the journey itself proves more endurance test than pleasure trip.

Fin’s opening utterance (“I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space”) sets the tone. It’s the self-aware, slightly mocking voice of a narrator trying to make sense of the relentless swirl of physical and emotional stimuli. Spinning in space, Fin methodically breaks down the horrors while facing an existential loneliness. But when Gartner employs the record scratch time-stop technique, he does more than simply flash back to how Fin reached this pivotal moment. He shows that Fin’s isolation is illusory: this resourceful kid is part of a tight-knit team and a continuum of explorers. As in his time-travel series The Eye of Ra, Gartner uses his research skills to pack One Giant Leap with scientific and historical detail (along with some surprising gross-out factoids).

That will entice space enthusiasts, but Fin’s struggle to confront the internal fears masked by his external bravery will also resonate with young readers. Traveling in space means employing your strengths while confronting your vulnerabilities, and Gartner focuses on the duality of fragility and resilience. One Giant Leap provides a vivid first-person account of space travel in all its terrifying glory precisely because it comes from someone who hasn’t yet learned how to filter his unabashed wonderment.

Takeaway: This exciting science fiction adventure is geared to readers looking to push their boundaries.

Great for fans of: Stuart Gibbs’s Space Case, Jennifer L. Holm’s The Lion of Mars, and Katie Slivensky’s The Countdown Conspiracy.

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

Adam Perry, author of Ghosts Come Rising

A heart-pounding, zero-g adventure, with kids who save the day, and a few mysteries thrown in for good measure. It’s like Gravity meets Space Case. I couldn’t stop reading!

Fleur Bradley, award-winning author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel and Daybrea

Ben Gartner is the master of middle-grade voice. I was instantly hooked on this fast-paced space adventure. It's the perfect blend of action, visual storytelling, and mystery. You don't want to miss this book!

Katie Slivensky, author of The Countdown Conspiracy

Smart, fast-paced, and an absolute must for anyone who dreams of space. STEM fans, take note! This thrillride is for you!

Mary Lanni, reviewer for School Library Journal

An excellent, STEM-focused narrative that will inspire middle grade readers with moments of true emotion and self-realization that anchor the story in the complicated realities of adolescence.

Sam Subity, author of The Last Shadow Warrior

Gartner’s trademark cinematic writing makes you feel like you’re right there in the middle of the action. Mixed with humor and heart, kids will love this adventure!