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Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions
Sometimes our greatest moments of enlightenment come from our worst mistakes. When life supplies eleven-year-old Tommy Grant with some unfavorable circumstances intruding on his otherwise tranquil life in 1980's Ohio, he retreats into the spell-binding Order of Cosmic Champions. When he discovers that the largely successful animated program and toy line is holding a nationwide "Create-A-Character" contest where applicants submit their action figure designs, Tommy knows he has to enter as surely as he knows his own name. But when Tommy's character design fails to win the contest, he finds his world crumbling from all sides. And there is only one way he knows to fix it. What follows is a whirlwind coming-of-age adventure of righting wrongs, overcoming perilous obstacles, confronting our inner demons, and challenging the limits of reality. In this waxing nostalgic and imaginative fantasy, readers will discover what excitement lies waiting when you take risks and conquer your fears. Only one question remains: In the final hour when you heed the call, the courage to give your all, will you stand or fall?
In this polished story of growing up 1980s-style with a touch of the fantastic, Tommy Grant sits at the precipice of his final summer vacation before entering middle school. He dreams of adventures with his best friend Evan—both mega fans of the Order of Cosmic Champions (OoCC) toy line and cartoon series—but nothing goes as Tommy hopes. First, his friendship with Evan suddenly shifts, leaving Tommy reeling. When his parents’ fights escalate, Tommy’s childhood hits a turning point of no return. His only ray of hope: an OoCC character drawing contest. If he wins the contest, maybe everything else will get a little brighter. What follows is a stellar, surprising, and heartfelt coming of age fantasy filled with battles with inner demons, relatable heart clenching obstacles, and winning moments of wit and comedy.

Rapino and Grate stir the reader’s emotions from start to finish, taking care to navigate themes of bullying and family dissonance with delicacy. Tommy is a loveable, empathetic young man caught between the whimsical world of childhood and the budding challenges of adolescence. He faces bullies and disintegrating friendships, low self-esteem, and his parents’ distant behavior as they struggle to keep their marriage together. The fantasy elements and introduction of an unexpected ally create a fanciful alternative reality for Tommy to fight his demons both external and internal as he takes on a quest filled with adventure and moments of bravery that shape the person he’s going to be.

This exciting fantasy is filled with fun 8-bit era pop culture references, spot-on comic dialogue perfect for kids, and plenty of thought-provoking morals that will engage readers of all ages. Tommy, his parents, and his friends are well developed characters with layers of depth. This endearing and heart-tugging adventure will capture readers’ attention and stick with them long after the final page.

Takeaway: This heartfelt, ‘80s set YA adventure blends the fantastic with real feeling.

Great for fans of: B.B. Alston’s Amari and the Night Brothers, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends, Esther Ehrlich’s Nest.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A