SPACE CASE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

This hefty volume won’t attract reluctant readers, but for everyone else, there’s a lot to like about this moon based mystery. Twelve-year-old Dashiel has his 9781442494862hands full as he tries to figure out who killed one of the top scientists on the first human moon colony. Every good mystery should have you guessing to the end and this one does a fine job making sure there is a motive for a large number of suspects. I was fascinated by what it would be like to actually live on the moon. It sounded intriguing at first, but after what the inhabitants go through, I’m staying close to Earth.

There are two reasons why we’ll be reading future stores in this unique setting: First, there is an unusual twist at the end that I hadn’t anticipated and our MC and his family are only in the first six months of their three year stay. I have the feeling there’s going to be more intrigue, suspense, and maybe a few uninvited guests as we follow this cast of characters.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):  Like his fellow lunarnauts—otherwise known as Moonies—living on Moon Base Alpha, twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson is famous the world over for being one of the first humans to live on the moon.

And he’s bored out of his mind. Kids aren’t allowed on the lunar surface, meaning they’re trapped inside the tiny moon base with next to nothing to occupy their time—and the only other kid Dash’s age spends all his time hooked into virtual reality games.

Then Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist turns up dead. Dash senses there’s foul play afoot, but no one believes him. Everyone agrees Dr. Holtz went onto the lunar surface without his helmet properly affixed, simple as that. But Dr. Holtz was on the verge of an important new discovery, Dash finds out, and it’s a secret that could change everything for the Moonies—a secret someone just might kill to keep…


  1. The science. You discover what it’s like sleeping, eating, and interacting in an environment so much different from our own. It had me saying “I didn’t know that” several times. Great discussion topics.
  2. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from THE OFFICIAL RESIDENTS’ GUIDE TO MOON BASE ALPHA. It’s a brochure like look at what to expect if chosen to be a temporary resident. Yeah, about those bathrooms…
  3. Both Dash and his new friend Kira are smart kids who think things through. They also each have parents on the trip and it’s nice to see normal families in an abnormal setting. Parents who are engaged in their children’s growth.
  4. Set in the not too distant future it never feels made-up with the technology used on the base.
  5. There’s humor in what could have been a very serious story. That’s mostly because of narrator, Dash, who has his own spin on life, family, and what he misses back on earth.


Let’s get something straight, right off the bat: Everything the movies have ever taught you about space travel is garbage.


…Writing something only 25 years in the future is kind of weird, because the potential for getting things wrong is enormous.  My readers are still going to be around in 25 years.  Hopefully, people will still be reading this book in 25 years.  So anything that is prescient will seem cool — but anything I get wrong will seem idiotic, probably. Right before I started writing, I watched the second Back to the Future movie.  (For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie takes place in 1985, and they travel to the distant future — of 2015.)  They weren’t really shooting for reality in that movie, but it’s amazing how far off they were.  Almost nothing they imagined for 2015 has happened yet. (SOURCE)


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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15 Responses to SPACE CASE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Susan says:

    I know I would like the excerpts from the Residents’ Guide, and the science sounds interesting, too. I think it’s okay if an author’s predictions about the near-future are off. It gives the reader something to smile about. 🙂

  2. Charlotte says:

    I’ll be looking for the next book too!

    I myself didn’t think it was all that hefty (especially compared to all the fantasy doorstoppers around), and the writing style seemed rather reluctant reader friendly to me, to the best of my recollection–shortish sentences, straightforward narrative style, the science explained engagingly….and as you point out, there’s humor. I watched my own kid (not a reluctant reader, but still) read it in a single sitting….

    • Yes, fantasy and sci fi do seem to eclipse the typical 40-45,000 word MG novel. Still though, 70,000 + words is a tough sell for many of the kids I work with no matter what the topic.

  3. This sounds really good. There’s not that much sci-fi for middle graders and kids who are already reading longer MG books should like this. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. ah this sounds so adorable! And I always loved big books when I was younger!

  5. Joanne Fritz says:

    I like that Dash and Kira are smart kids who think things through. I’ve heard of this book from other MMGMers but haven’t read it yet. Clearly, it needs to be on my TBR list. Sounds intriguing.

  6. “It’s nice to see normal families in an abnormal setting. Parents who are engaged in their children’s growth.”

    Definitely one of my “likes” in middle grade–especially when there are so many orphans!

  7. jennienzor says:

    My 12-year-old son just started reading this and seems to like it so far. I’ve been wanting to check out more middle grade mysteries myself, so I’ll be reading it next. I like that it’s only 25 years in the future and the addition of the “Official Residents’ Guide” sounds like fun.

  8. What a great boy book. Always searching for books for reluctant readers. Enjoyed your review.

  9. This sounds like a great concept for a book. Thanks for telling me about it. It probably won’t get the readership it deserves at over 70K words though. 8-(

  10. Janet Smart says:

    I don’t usually read MG books that length, but for those who do, it sounds interesting and different. I think kids who love to read would enjoy it.

  11. Pingback: Favorite Middle Grade Reading Moments 2015 & a Giveaway – Always in the Middle

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