Review Blog

Apr 17 2019

Catch a falling star by Meg McKinlay

cover image

Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925381207.
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Family, Skylab, Death, Grief, Coming of age, Friendship, Astronomy. McKinlay is an Award winning author (Prime Minister's Literary Award-winning A Single Stone, and CBCA-shortlisted No Bears and Duck for a Day) and has written an engrossing and heart-wrenching story dealing with a death in the family and its aftermath. Frankie Avery is left looking after her young brother Newt (short for Newton) while her mother works very long hours as a way to forget the death of her husband, which is never mentioned in the house. The news stories of the imminent fall of Skylab bring back many memories of the times she and her father watched the skies through their telescope and seem to have affected Newt, who begins to act strangely.
The historically accurate setting in 1979, when Skylab is going to fall out of the sky, provides an excellent background for McKinlay to explore the dysfunctional family dynamics in Frankie's household. She is the one who must ensure that Newt is safe, but she is little more than a child herself. As the threat of Skylab looms, it looks as if Frankie won't be able to manage anymore and she desperately needs a way to cope.
McKinlay is an expert wordsmith, who brings both the characters and the setting to life with vivid imagery and description. Readers will find themselves shedding a few tears along the way as they hope that things will improve for Frankie, while despairing about the grief that has led to the neglect from her mother.
This would make an ideal class set or literature circle book, as well as one that would read aloud very well. Teacher notes are available.
Pat Pledger

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