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Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It
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Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  521 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Ten-year-old Tae Kwon Do blue belt and budding rock hound Brendan Buckley keeps a "Confidential" notebook for his top-secret scientific discoveries. And he's found something totally top secret. The grandpa he's never met, who his mom refuses to talk about or see, is an expert mineral collector and lives nearby! Secretly, Brendan visits Ed DeBose, whose skin is pink, not br ...more
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2007)
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5/2/11 ** This was a Young Hoosier Nominee for 2010-2011; before I returned all the nominees to the library, there were a few I still wanted to read. I think this has to go onto my wishlist of books to own.

I thoroughly enjoyed Brendan's character. His internal dialogue during his quest to understand the world around him keeps the book lighthearted, while also sometimes poignant. Brendan is a self-described scientist - asking questions, looking for answers, and struggling to against the informati
This is a nice realistic fiction novel about a mixed race, extremely curious boy. His dad is black and his mom is white. He is somewhat in-between. Brendan is always writing questions in a notebook because he wants to become a scientist. He discovers he has a white grandfather he never knew he had when he runs into him at a rock exhibit. He and his grandfather share many "scientist" characteristics. The big question is why this grandfather has chosen to not to be a part of his life until now, an ...more
Apr 05, 2008 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: Julia
Brendan is endlessly curious, and he has taken to writing queries (and hopefully their answers) in his Book of Big Questions. However, one thing that he knows not to ask about is his mother’s father, and why he is absent from their lives; one thing that hasn’t occurred to him as a question is how he, the son of a black father and white mother, is seen. During the summer he will turn eleven, a chance encounter with his missing grandfather sends him searching for more answers than will fit in his ...more
I read this book aloud to my eight-year-old daughter before bedtime every night, and we both loved it. It's a great story of a boy struggling to understand Big Questions in his life, ranging from scientific queries to strange family dynamics. In the midst of it he comes face to face with inter-racial struggles within his family (his dad is African-American and his mother is European-American) from a kid's perspective. My daughter and I had a great time talking about these issues, which are relev ...more
Helen Huber

Ten year old Brendan is the believable protagonist in Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It. Chock full of realistic dialogue and thoughtful reflections on topics including race relations and integrity, Brendan has enough areas of connection that most middle age (10-13ish) readers will be able to engage and enjoy the story. Interested in taekwondo, science and becoming a rock hound, Brendan is curious and articulate as he gathers information in his journal about the mysteries in his li
Nov 22, 2008 Carrie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
This is an upper-elementary/middle school novel. I found it on the Coretta Scott King award page. It's about a ten year old boy who's really into geology and asking lots of questions. He comes from a biracial family. He discovers a grandfather from whom he has been estranged for his entire life. Really great message!
Chris Holliman
Brendan Buckley is a ten year old boy interested in rocks and Tae Kwon Do. He keeps a journal called Brendan Buckley’s Book of Big Questions About Life, the Universe and Everthing In It. Lately he’s had plenty of questions for that journal. While at the mall looking at a rock collection, his grandmother vigorously drags him away from an old man. Brendan realizes that the man is his estranged granfather of whom no one in his family speaks well. Using his curious and scientific mind, Brendan quest ...more
Chris Murray
Mixed-race Brendan Buckley is fascinated by science, and he likes to find the answers to questions that he poses in his notebook. Brendan finds that life isn’t always easily explained, however, after he meets his grandfather for the first time at a rock club meeting. Brendan’s white grandfather has been estranged from Brendan’s mother since her marriage to an African American. Despite Brendan’s mixed parentage, he bonds with his grandfather through their shared interest in rock collectin
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Dianna Geers for

Brendan Buckley is into Tae Kwon Do and studying rocks. He would love to be a scientist and faithfully keeps a notebook with important questions and findings. During the summer, Brendan plans on becoming a rock collector. And he is trying to adjust to losing his best fishing buddy, Grandpa Clem.

When looking at a mineral and gemstone exhibit, he meets a man who has awesome rocks and who knows a TON about rocks and minerals. His Grandma Gladys sees the
Eva Mitnick
This was much more moving and involving than I thought it would be. 10-year-old Brendan's mom is white and his dad is black - while he has gotten to know the black side of his family, his mother has always remained silent about his white grandparents. Brendan, a budding scientist and rock hound, meets his white grandpa, Ed DeBose, by accident at the mall during an exhibition of rocks and minerals (Ed is president of a local club devoted to rock hounds and collectors), and from then on he seeks E ...more
Brendan Buckley is a geologist in the making...he loves rocks, minerals, and the earth. Little does he know, however, that part of his love for the science comes from his grandpa, Ed (his mom's dad). Brendan has never met Ed and doesn't know anything about him. When Grandma Gladys (his dad's mom) takes him to the mall one summer day, he finds a rock exhibit and talks to the man at the counter. Instantly, they both know they have a passion and fascination with minerals. But, when Gladys sees who ...more
There is much to like here:

~ It's refreshing to have a protagonist who is an average kid who just happens to like all-things-scientific. His "Big Book of Questions" is a great idea for classrooms and all science-minded readers.

~ Brendan's family is well-adjusted and loving, and they teach him to be honest and responsible. (I enjoyed the moments when Gladys was on the scene and those times Brendan would remember his Grandpa Clem.)

~ When Brendan refused his purple belt because he "had not been nob
Addison Children
Brendan's mother is white, his father black, the only grandparents he has ever known are his father's parents. He knows his mother's mother is dead, but what of her father. When Brendan accidently stumbles across him and learns that he lives nearby, Brendan is even more confused. Why have they never met? Why doesn't his mother ever speak of him? Brendan learns some hard truths about racism and compares himself to a rock (mixed) rather than a mineral (pure).
This book is a great story about family, racism and the power of forgiveness. Brendan is a young scientist, the son of a black Dad and a white Mom. He has never met his Mom's Dad. One day he accidentally meets him and goes on to use his scientist skills to discover the secrets behind his family.
An added bonus is the story takes place in what I believed to be Federal Way where I live. (The next in the series says he lives in Tacoma)
Amy Lindsay
Brendan, according to his gram is "chocolate milk"---chocolate from his dad and milk from his mom. He's a good kid with a good stable family. One day when he's walking around the mall with his gram he sees this old man at a table full of rocks. He strikes up a conversation but when his gram happens up on them she goes bezerk. Turns out the old man is his grandfather, his mom's father, who he's never met. His other grandpa recently passed away and so Bren is determined to learn more about his gra ...more
Jul 22, 2009 Regina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kids of any color, 8-12
Recommended to Regina by: 2010 Children's Sequoyah Masterlist
Great book, great topics. We have many biracial children in our school, and we need more books with characters like Brendan. Lots of discussion topics on racism, biracial families, science, rock collecting, Tae Kwon Do, integrity, honesty, bullying, and family relationships. Brendan's scientific mind is evident throughout the story, especially when he and his friend Khalfani try to see who has the larger bladder. (Yes, guzzling water then waiting to pee into a 2-later bottle.) I almost lost it w ...more
Drexel 6
Throughout this book you will discover a boy named Brendan Buckley, who loves science. He has a confidential notebook for his top secret scientific discoveries. He finds out a top-secret: that he has a never met Grandpa. Soon a new experience comes along. A Grandpa he has met tells him that even though he doesn’t really know him he still wants him to treat him like he treats his other Grandpa. I recommend this book to the best book I’ve read so far. It taught me that there can be people that are ...more
I listened to this middle-grade story about Brendan Buckley, a biracial 10-year-old science enthusiast and purple belt in Tae Kwon Do. Brendan tries to figure out why his grandfather, Ed DeBose, is estranged from the family. His mother has never allowed them to see each other. Through a chance meeting, Brendan discovers that Ed is a rock and mineral collector just like him. They begin a relationship sharing facts about geology until his mother finds out, and she is angry! We find out the reason ...more
Carolyn Roys
My other challenge will be books that hit you over the head with their "message." Even if it is a good one, I prefer it to happen naturally in the course of a book not smack me in the face. Yes, Brendan has one white parent and one black one but he is a curious little boy and it shouldn't matter. Sadly, in America, it still seems to matter if one considers the events in the news lately. For Brendan he comes to know a grandpa that rejected the idea of his daughter marrying a black man and who wan ...more
Erin Sterling
Brendan is a 10 1/2 year old who is fascinated by the universe and everything in it and loves asking questions in a notebook and using science to figure out the answer, like "what is dust?", "how do they get the ripple in fudge ripple ice cream?" and "What am I? Black? Biracial? Am I white, too?" When Brendan discovers that grandpa is alive and lives close by, he wonders why they've never met. The story is compelling (a boy's connection to a grandpa admist the context of racial identity formatio ...more
Melissa Bell

My daughter and I were excited to read this book after reading the blurb on the back of the book. A rock hound. A MIA grandpa. Very quickly we were disappointed in this story. My daughter felt the story was slow. I felt that not only was there not enough about the mystery of Bredan's grandpa, but the content about race was too in your face and almost unnecessary. A great story could have been had without the incident in the park, without the questions on why some white people do not like black
Brendan Bucley is the son of a white mother and black father, and for the most part, his bi-racial make-up isn't an issue. But when Brendan pursues his intersest in rocks and minerals, he encounters a fellow rock-hound who has more of a connection to Brendan's life than at first appears. A thoughtful look at race and family for younger students, but this wasn't my favorite book when I read it, and I'm not sure how much students will connect to the story. Suffers in comparison to "Stanford Wong" ...more
2012 Bluestem nominee (Illinois state reading list for grades 3-5) Excellent book, winner of a Coretta Scott King Award. Brendan, a child with black father and white mother, accidentally meets estranged white grandfather and pursues a relationship with him. Brendan has a passionate interest in science, particularly geology, which also happens to be the grandfather's passion. The main theme of the book is why so many white people hate black people without cause but also has a lot of introspection ...more
I was excited to read this book and had high expectations--it is a Coretta Scott King award winner. Brendan thinks of himself as a scientist and as the book progresses also begins collecting rocks. The family issues (an estranged white grandfather and a recently deceased black grandfather) and the name-calling (because he's biracial) he deals with throughout the books are constantly compared to the rocks he is collecting. He is the one that draws these seemed unlikely that a 10- ...more
YES for our library.

This book is about as good as realistic fiction gets when it comes to taking on the topic of biracial children, equality treatment, and a child's search for identity.

The story feels so real and genuine, qualities often lacking in children's literature. Moreover, this is near flawless approach at telling a story from a true kids-point-of-view, one that looks and feels just as you would expect a 10 (or so) year-old to act and react, change and grow.

I really can't say enough gr
This was a cute book. It is a children's book, so the race issues were not written about at all subtly, Frazier basically smacks the reader in the face with it. But I think this would be a great book to read with a small group, in a literature circle or something. It could lead to some really great discussions. It is a Coretta Scott King Award winner, which is what drew me too it in the first place. Frazier reminds me a bit of Christopher Paul Curtis in that she attempts to use some slapstick hu ...more
Short & Sweet:
I felt the same way my students did on this one. I thought it would be dull, but it was very exciting and touching throughout the whole book. Brendan doesn't understand a lot of things in the world and has a notebook of questions, the top of which is why his mother doesn't ever talk about his grandfather. Especially when he lives so close to their family. Brendan goes out of his way to spend time with his grandfather which leads him into a lot of trouble.

Final Verdict:
A great
My boyfriend's son is participating in the Reading Olympics, and after his disaster of a science project, the only way to really help him out, I figured, is to read the books. So, I began the book with trepidation, uch, a kid's book, but you know what, it was great! And really timely, in light of yesterday's inauguration. A great way to discuss race, and how to ask difficult questions with kids. The metaphors are definitely the "hit you over the head" kind, but it's a great stepping stone to the ...more
Brendan is into science. There are so many questions to find the answers to, and he keeps them all in his top secret notebook of scientific discovery. He is mastering the study of Tae Kwon Do, and is working on creating his own rock collection. Brendan is thrilled to meet Ed DeBose, who is a famous rock collector. He is even more excited when he learns that Ed is actually his long-lost grandpa! Brendan's parents don't want to talk about why Ed hasn't been part of the family. Can Brendan use his ...more
Brendan Buckley is a scientist and inquirer, always searching for answers and explanations to his many questions and wonderings. When he accidentally meets his mum's father, he tries to find out what happened that destroyed the relationship between his mum and her dad. I enjoyed Brendan's confidence and perseverance in uncovering answers and think the author did a wonderful job in narrating a biracial kid's search for his own identity. Young readers will also enjoy Brendan's passion for Tae Kwan ...more
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