I love it when a book surprises me and Maisie Day definitely did just that. Christopher Edge has created a very different but also extremely satisfying read in which the world of science combines with the unbreakable bonds of true family love.
Maisie wakes up late on her tenth birthday and remembers that Mum and Dad are planning a special party for her. She looks out of her window at the sunlit garden and the gazebo lying ready on the lawn. Maisie pulls on her dressing gown and rushes excitedly downstairs calling out for her Mum and Dad. There is no reply and the house is eerily quiet. She walks around the ground floor from room to room and sees that there is no one there. Puzzled she heads back up the stairs and cautiously taps at her big sister Lily’s bedroom door. There is no reply and on entering Maisie discovers that this room too is empty. Where is everyone? They should be busy with her birthday preparations. Amid rising panic Maisie opens the front door and there is nothing there, absolutely nothing. Total blackness extending to infinity. Trapped in this nightmare world Maisie must use all her knowledge to save herself. Will this knowledge be enough?
Wow! What a story. This may be short at just 150 pages but it is a book full of science, courage, love and huge surprises. I don’t normally tend to choose science fiction but this, although absolutely crammed full of scientific information, has converted me. Children who ask a lot of questions will lap this up. Christopher Edge manages to make the subjects of black holes, time, virtual reality and the cosmos accessible to everyone. There is lots of detail but it never becomes overwhelming and will, I think, encourage young readers to go away and learn more.
Maisie, academically gifted and already studying for a degree, is both engaging and interesting. I very quickly cared about what happened to her and was committed to the story within a couple of chapters. The story is told in alternate chapters portraying firstly the terrifying world of ever growing blackness and secondly the sunny, celebratory birthday world of Maisie and her family. This never becomes confusing but instead intensifies the reader’s interest as you try to work out what will happen next. I had suspicions of possible outcomes but Christopher Edge cleverly builds up the tension culminating in a plot device I did not expect. I think this is a gripping and frankly emotional read that would be wonderful for readers of about 10 upwards. It’s absolutely perfect for youngsters who have an interest in science and as an added bonus its length means it won’t put off children who find 400 page long tomes a little off putting . Highly recommended.
There are a range of teaching resources available to go with the book on Christopher’s website suitable for KS2 and KS3.