Cover Image: Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion

Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion

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Member Reviews

Black Girl Stem magic in a fun sci-fi mystery 

Eleven-year-old Ruby Finley loves bugs. So when the strangest one she’s ever seen appears in her front yard, of course she grabs a mason jar from under the porch (stored for just such occasions) and collects the specimen, screwing the lid on tight.

After posting a photo to Twitter to ask for help identifying the bug, Ruby dives into internet research. When a strange noise draws her attention, the bug is melting the window screen to make its get-away. The abandoned jar, lid still on, sports a round, smooth hole in its side.

Soon, a bunch of white men in dark glasses and suits descend on the house, eager to talk to Ruby. These self-described “agents” (Gramma calls them G-men) shut down surrounding streets and search the neighborhood. But the bug has vanished, just like Ruby’s tweet.

When random items disappear from the neighborhood—including the elderly recluse known as Witchypoo—Ruby can’t help wondering if the mysterious bug is involved. What in the world is it? Where is it? What does it want? Is it dangerous? Can Ruby use the scientific method to find answers?

Readers will enjoy getting to know smart, funny Ruby, her crew and the extended family and friends who make up their diverse, tight-knit community. (Debut author K. Tempest Bradford has created a neighborhood vibe that feels so real and welcoming, I want to go to a BBQ or potluck there.) The community’s support for Ruby is a nice counterpoint to the grumpy, white science teacher who doubts Ruby’s abilities and insists she abandon her bee-keeping project for something easier. Ruby’s response is empowering and inspiring.

This is a fun, sci-fi romp, with surprise twists that are bizarre and perfect. It’s also a heartfelt and inspiring story celebrating a gifted, brave, and determined Black girl and the power of family, friends and community.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I only post about books that I finished and enjoyed.
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This STEM oriented middle grade reader will appeal to your elementary school age sci-fans!  The main character is a likeable, curious 11 year old Black girl named Ruby.  Ruby loves insects and is trying to get her bee science fair project approved but her current science teacher doubts her abilities.  Ruby has a good cast of characters for her friends and the friends all rally together to solve a mystery after an uproar over an unidentifiable bug Ruby finds.  The only thing I didn't like in this middle grade title is when the author has one of Ruby's friends, Brandon, give the middle finger to the friend group before he rides off on his bike.  The middle finger sign-off seems out of place in this wholesome sci-fi mystery. None of the characters, including Brandon curse or use obscene gestures at any other point in the book so it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the story.   This book will especially appeal to third through fifth graders.  Video gamer students will particularly like this book as Ruby and her friends all play games together using their xCube game consoles.

I do have one question for the author, was the inspiration for Witchypoo from the character, Wilhemina W. Witchiepoo from the Tv show H.R. Pufnstuf?  If so, well done, it made me smile!  If it was just a happy coincidence that's ok too!
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