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Kepler's Dream

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  576 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
A young girl makes her fractured family whole again with the help of a very special book

When eleven-year-old Ella's mother has to be hospitalized to undergo a dangerous cancer treatment, Ella spends the summer at "Broken Family Camp" with her eccentric grandmother, whom she's never met. The situation is hardly ideal for either of them. Ella is scared her mother may die, b
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 10th 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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This may seem like a heretical idea (especially on goodreads), but some people think that book collectors and those of us who spend a lot of time reading are disconnected from the real world. It is hard to explain that we read and adore books so much because we love life and see books as a way of capturing all of life's moments and the people who shape us.
Ella's Grandmother feels this way about books, too. Her attachment to Kepler's Dream expresses her love for her husband, who died in an accide
Brandy Painter
Jan 20, 2012 marked it as set-aside
So I read the first chapter of this and had to put it aside. It's funny the things that can make or break a book. In this case? The story takes placed in Albuquerque and the MC described the June night as "freezing" and "icy". I thought maybe it was 11 year old exageration. But then the other 11 year old concurred. Huh I thought. Maybe they don't actually live IN Albuquerque but in the mountains outside. I still wouldn't use the word icy but it would be more understandable. But nope. She mention ...more
Dallas Nateweyes
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kepler's Dream is a 5th. through 8th. grade novel with some excellent characterizations. Abercrombie was the character that I loved to hate. He was as despicable as a villain in a silent movie.

Yes, you could call Ella's family dysfunctional, but there was still an undercurrent of love and caring despite their issues. The numerous instances of (expletive deleted) brought humor as Ella and her friends and family sought to solve the mystery of the disappearance of an extremely valuable book called
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a really quiet book as many would say. A certain book which holds many ties to family goes missing and our main character is out to find it. I really liked how the book examples how a single object can hold so many memories.This book does deserve 4 stars because the plot does have more potential but that's good enough.
Mailee Xiong
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
So far, this book is going good. I think it shows a lot about Ellie's emotions. Like a lot, at some point, this book makes me wonder how sad it'll be like to have a mother like hers. This Book isn't that bad, I actually kind of like it.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Things I liked:
1. Her grandmother's house, the way it was laid out, the stuff it had, and all the peacocks. It was a really cool setting but it wasn't utilized in the way I would've like to read about.
2. The rare book, Kepler's Dream, sounds like it would be a fun book to read.
3. Getting introduced to the characters in the beginning was interesting because there seemed so much potential to them (at first) and (at first) I really liked the grandmother's quirks.
4. Ella's mom. Even though she wa
Ella's mother has to undergo cancer treatment and her father is out leading fishing trips, so she ends up at her grandmother's house for the summer. Ella's grandmother is not your typical grandma though - Violet Von Stern is a cold, particular, and fussy lady who lives in New Mexico surrounded by her beloved books and pet peacocks. Ella has no memory of ever meeting her grandmother and is not happy about being stuck with her for several weeks. A very treasured book of her grandmother's goes miss ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Ugh. This book was pure meh for me. I'm so disappointed. I mean I was expecting great things from this book. It was described as a moving, heart warming story, plus there was a mystery about a stolen book! It should have been good, but it was only okay. The characters were okay, the writing was okay, the plot was okay, but put together it just gave off this overwhelming sense of blandness. I just didn't feel a connection to any of the characters. This book was not memorable. I found myself havin ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this up for the astronomy aspect, which turned out to be the best part for me. I had a hard time getting into it, I felt disconnected from the characters. I did like the family history stuff and the house where all this crazy stuff happens sounds awesome. Anyway, cute but not exactly memorable or a favorite.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Fair. Simple story easy enough to follow but I really wanted more details on the characters which never came. I was surprised at how in depth and repetitive certain things were but then we never got closure on main themes such as the family dynamic, grandmother's relationship with Walter, etc. Fair. nothing special.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A strong story about family. A young girl goes to stay for the summer with a grandmother she's never met and in the process learns more about her family and herself and solves a mystery. Plenty of funny moments as well. Good mix of humor, mystery, and heart.
Diane McKenzie
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Albuquerque is a perfect setting for this story about dreams that can come true with growth from a broken up family and an antique treasured book about the skies above.
BAYA Librarian
Feb 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Eleven year old Ella is shipped off to stay with her rigid grandmother on a remote ranch in Albuquerque, New Mexico while her mother is undergoing cancer treatments and her distant father is off leading fishing trips. Ella hardly knows her grandmother, having seen her last when she was a baby, just as her parents were splitting up. So we’ve got a child of divorced parents, a catastrophically ill mother, an estranged father who is unreliable and rarely available, a cold, formal grandmother, still ...more
Begins in medias res as a commotion at night outside the adobe house of main character Ella Mackenzie's grandmother awakens everyone. They discover that grandmother Violet Von Stern's copy of Kepler's Somnium, or Dream, has been stolen from her detached library, a chapel-like structure twenty-some feet from her house in New Mexico. After this cliff hanger to end chapter one, Bell, moves back in time to fill in the vents leading up to the theft, an exposition that occupies the next 100 pages. Inc ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Ella’s mother has been sick with cancer for many years. Now doctors want to try a dangerous stem cell transplant as a last ditch effort to save her life. While she undergoes this treatment, Ella needs somewhere to stay. Her parents are divorced, and her father has been absent for most of Ella’s life. Because he will be busy leading fishing expeditions, he suggests that his daughter spend the summer with her grandmother, a woman Ella has never met. Having no other options, Ella and her dog fly to ...more
While her mother fights for her life and undergoes invasive treatment for her cancer, Ella has nowhere else to go but to her paternal grandmother's home in Albuquerque. Since her parents' divorce, eleven-year-old Ella has had little contact with her father since he often heads off on fishing expeditions from his Spokane, Washington base of operations. Since Ella doesn't remember ever meeting this grandmother, she is understandably reluctant to stay with her, and her insistence on proper grammar ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 4th-8th grade
Ella’s mother needs special treatments for her leukemia; Ella’s father is leading fishing expeditions and has never really had time for Ella. So Ella is sent to live with her stern grandmother who she has never met before. Grandmother’s house is filled with “stuff” from her travels, but her greatest pride is in her library filled with rare books.

The story starts out with a mystery: Grandmother’s most prized book, Kepler’s Dream, has disappeared. Ella and her new friend, Rosie, are determined to
I had heard great things about this book, and all the good buzz was definitely deserved. Ella is a great character. Readers can take her seriously, but still laugh at all her jokes (*"Roald Dahl recipe book" is all I'll say here). There is not one character in this book that does not feel genuine and fully formed (and that goes for the animals in the book too!). There are so many traps that the author could have fallen into, such as making Ella's sick mother a saint (instead there were many refe ...more
When Ella MacKenzie has to stay with a grandmother who she has never had any contact with, her fears about her mother's cancer and the radical treatment she needs to undergo are made even more daunting and frightening. Her father, Walter doesn't have much contact with her or his mother so Ella knows virtually nothing about this mysterious woman.

She arrives in Albuquerque, New Mexico to find a stern, almost unloving woman who is mad at the world, it seems. But, she does love her books, her liber
Emily Calzi
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-talk
Kepler’s Dream is the story of a young girl (eleven) named Ella MacKenzie, whose adventure is the key to mending her lost and heart-broken. The story life is filled with adventure, love, family, forgiveness, dedication and journey. When Ella’s mother becomes ill and diagnosed with cancer, Ella is sent off for the summer to the “Broken Family Camp” in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her Grandmother she has not seen since she was a little girl. Her grandmother is dry and rigid, only caring about her ...more
4.5 stars. This is a quiet, meaningful story about family, books, and stars. Eleven-year-old Ella has to spend the summer at her (expletive deleted) grandmother's peacock-infested house in Albuquerque because her mother is undergoing cancer treatments. She's never met her eccentric grandmother before, and quickly starts calling her GM (General Major) to herself because of her stern and unaffectionate mannerisms. She slowly befriends Rosie, who lives close by, and whose father works for GM. Ella' ...more
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Starred Kirkus

With her mother off on a lunar mission—a last-ditch treatment for leukemia—Ella is left circling like astronaut Michael Collins awaiting the hoped-for reunion. She and her mom have always admired Collins’ bravery, and it turns out the analogy has personal resonance.

When no one else is able to take Ella, she is sent to stay with GM (Grandmother/General Major), a woman Ella has never met. Or has she? The family history is as difficult to navigate as GM’s peacock-ridden, jam-packed ha
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 5th-8th good readers, esp. girls, interested children's writers
Keppler's Dream written by Juliet Bell,first time author,must have slipped under the radar of reviewers that I read. The cover blurb by author MIchael Chabon, catches some of its honesty and readability. He said of the book,"Sweet funny and charming."

THe official summary gives a sense of the plot and setting.Ella's mother is near death and ELla must go somewhere while her mom gets tratment. The grandmother she has forgotten is not Ella's first choice but there are no others. Especially appealin
Ms. Yingling
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Ella's mother is ill with cancer, so she is sent to the home of her quirky grandmother (known as GM), where she at least has the company of Rosie, the daughter of a man who works for GM. After a disturbance on the grounds one night (and there's a map at the beginning of the book), GM discovers that a valuable book has been stolen from their library; Kepler's Dream. Ella's grandfather, who was an astronomer and knew Michael Collins, valued the book, so Ella (who has nothing better to do with her ...more
Teresa Garrett
Ella's mother has leukemia and is scheduled for a stem cell transplant on the fourth of July and no one knows where Ella can stay. Ella's parents are divorced and live far apart. Walt, Ella's dad, suggests she spend the summer with her grandmother whom Ella has never met. With only strange stories from her mom about this mysterious relative Ella is excited and scared of spending time with her grandmother in New Mexico. When she arrives her grandmother is as mysterious as is her House of Mud, Ell ...more
Tracy Holczer
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a magical book that took me to another place. Set in Albuquerque (Rhyme's with beef jerky according to Ella), the main character has been sent to live with her estranged paternal grandmother as her mother goes through treatment for cancer. Surrounded by desert, adobe and peacocks, Ella goes about living day to day with a bibliofile grandmother who doesn't show much interest in her other than to correct her grammer. But Ella deals with the hand given her with heart and grace. She discove ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really liked the bones of this story (who doesn't like stories about a precocious young girl, bravely facing her mother's illness, surrounded by a cast of eccentric characters) but the execution of it was not great. The editing was terrible -- there were several instances when the characters were described as wearing different clothes than they started out in. Also, as someone who has lived in Albuquerque for the past eight years, I couldn't figure out where the grandmother's house was suppose ...more
Tian Lin
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Louise
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: debut-authors

Eleven-year-old Ella MacKenzie's mother's radical cancer treatment and her absentee professional fisherman father are the reasons Ella must travel to Albuquerque to stay for the summer with her paternal grandmother whom she's never met and her father, Walter, is estranged from. Ella learns her grandmother (GM) loves good grammar, peacocks, her dead astonomy loving husband and their books, especially the rare Dream of the Moon by a seventeenth century astronomer named Kepler. Then the book is sto
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