Plot/Idea: When 12-year-old “space junkie” Finley wins a trip to space aboard the Aether, it seems too good to be true—but Gartner raises the stakes quickly, and readers are launched into a no-holds-barred fight for survival that will resonate with middle grade fans.
Prose: The prose fits the story’s premise perfectly and effortlessly matches the intended audience. Gartner builds intensity naturally as the plot progresses.
Originality: The cast in One Giant Leap is young, and largely capable of solving the plot's problems with minimal adult interference, a detail that will especially gratify readers. Gartner delivers a unique mix of character development and suspense that lends the book an edge.
Character/Execution: Gartner’s characters complement the novel’s theme, and readers will easily relate to them while cheering on their mission. The cast’s moments of danger and suspense are well-crafted, with believable interactions and emotions.
Date Submitted: April 03, 2023
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.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
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!
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!
Smart, fast-paced, and an absolute must for anyone who dreams of space. STEM fans, take note! This thrillride is for you!
Relatable characters ground a story that’s suspenseful, funny, and heartwarming.
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.
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!