Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan

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Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely story about overcoming social anxiety while coping with an irresponsible parent. Warm, funny and inclusive, it's also an inspiring read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408879751

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Meg loves space. And when we say Meg loves space, this doesn't quite explain how much Meg loves space. Meg loves all things space to the exclusion of almost everything else. She has a space mural in her bedroom. She belongs to a stargazing club with her grandfather. She is determined to become an astronaut one day. And she dreams of winning a competition that will earn her a place on a trip to NASA in Houston.

But the prize and the NASA trip is about to be put at risk by none other than Meg's ditsy, impulsive, hippytastic mother, who rushes off to volunteer for one of her Big Important Causes halfway across the world in Myanmar. Mum has left Meg and her baby sister Elsa - yes, there's a Disney connection! - in the care of their grandfather but Grandad is just as ditsy and impulsive and, dare we say it, irresponsible, as Mum. Even Meg knows that he can't look after them properly. So she decides to spend the two weeks looking after Elsa at home. How hard can it be?

As it turns out, very hard. Elsa cries. A lot. And Meg doesn't have many friends at school who could help out - she's a dedicated geek, after all, and they aren't usually top of a school's pecking order, are they? And Meg also suffers from social anxiety that makes her put up barriers to others for fear of being mocked. But fellow brainbox Ed offers to help and an accidental detention sees Meg join the Biscuit Club. So perhaps friendship is on offer after all.

But will it be enough to get through unscathed until Mum gets home? Or to win the competition? It'll take a miracle of cosmic proportions...

Aww. Stargazing for Beginners is a lovely story. It's warm and sweet and you can't help but root for Meg, who is a big ol' mess of ambition and insecurity combined. Or be cross at her mother, who rushes halfway across the world to help strangers but doesn't notice that her own daughter could do with a bit of help herself. And you'll fall in love with the members of the Biscuit Club, a ragtag band of thoroughly likeable misfits, if the pages of a book ever contained one.

Slapstick is provided by Grandad, a Professor Branestawn figure, plenty of hamsters, chickens, and a drooling dog called Pongo. They are all hilarious. We get a mean girl to be cross with too - although Bella is so oblivious that she isn't deliberately malicious. This isn't that kind of book. And there's a love story intertwined with the mayhem. It's a lovely subplot, too. Plus, of course, there's some fabulous space-y detail with all sorts of inspiring fact and figures. Stargazing for Beginners really does have a little bit of everything.

This is one for tweens who like a good, fast-moving story and a central character who has a lot to overcome. And it comes with some STEM inspiration for girls. What more could you want?

If Stargazing for Beginners appeals, you might also enjoy All About Mia by Lisa Williamson. And if you're inspired by Meg's love of all things space-y and science-y, you should get yourself a copy of Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

Buy Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan at

Buy Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan at


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