DOWN TO EARTH, by Betty Culley, Crown Books for Young Readers, August 24, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
A boy’s life is turned upside down when a meteorite falls in his family’s field in Betty Culley’s Down to Earth.
Henry has always been fascinated by rocks. As a homeschooler, he pours through the R volume of the encyclopedia (to help him identify the rocks he finds). So, when a meteorite falls in his family’s field, who better to investigate than this rock enthusiast — with his best friend, James, and his little sister, Birdie, in tow, of course.
But soon after the meteorite’s arrival, the water in Henry’s small Maine town starts drying up. It’s not long before news spreads that the space rock and Henry’s family might be to blame. Henry is determined to defend his newest discovery, but his knowledge of geology could not have prepared him for how much this stone from the sky would change his community, his family, and even himself. —Synopsis provided by Crown Books for Young Readers
I don’t know what I was expecting going into Down to Earth, but I sure loved what I ended up reading.
At the center of the story is Henry, a homeschooled kid who has always loved rocks and dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a dowser (using a forked stick to locate underground water). To Henry, the meteorite is almost a living thing. He sees himself as its protector.
The appeal of Down to Earth comes in its simplicity. Kids aren’t glued to cell phones; families work to support each other; and there’s a true sense of community, even when there are disagreements. Quite honestly, it’s this sort of wholesome background that really elevates the magic and joy of making a discovery and learning.
Author Betty Culley’s writing is smooth and inviting. She seamlessly educates — lots of space and geological science facts — while painting a compelling story of friendship and family. I particularly enjoyed Henry’s little sister, Birdie, who brings such joy to the narrative.
Down to Earth is intended for middle readers, but adults (and maybe even some young adults, too) will enjoy this novel, too.
© 2021, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.