Down to Earth

Crown. May 2021. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593175736.
Gr 4-7–Fascinated with geology, Henry spends hours breaking rocks open. His family members are water dowsers, people who sense sources of water using a dowsing rod. Henry is anxious because water dowsing is not something one can learn from a book, and not everyone in the family has the “gift.” When he tries to use a dowsing rod to find water, he feels an urge to hold the stick toward the sky instead of the ground. Soon, a giant meteorite falls to Earth. Henry is ecstatic to find and analyze the rock from space. But the meteorite has brought more than just media attention and a collector offering a giant financial reward—the rock has caused a disaster, and Henry feels responsible. Culley perfectly illustrates Henry’s complicated feelings and insecurities. He reacts like any child would, especially when the small town seems to hold him responsible. Poignant, lyrical prose and an engaging mix of geology, astronomy, and wonder will make this title popular, especially for fans of Nancy Viau’s Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. Henry is cued as white.
VERDICT Heartwarming and absorbing, this is a solid choice for middle grade collections. Perfect for readers who want a great small-town story mixed with STEM.

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