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Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  781 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award, the story of a biracial boy who is into science and discovers that he shares this passion with a grandfather he never knew.

Ten-year-old Tae Kwon Do blue belt and budding rock hound Brendan Buckley keeps a CONFIDENTIAL notebook for his top-secret discoveries. And he's found something totally top sec
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Yearling (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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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
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd had a book like this growing up! A sweet story of a bi-racial 10 year old who suddenly finds a long lost (formerly racist) relative. A great book club book for young readers! There is very little action, and only mild character development, but I think the author was more concerned with telling Brendan's story. ...more
Margaret Boling
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
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, it still holds up!

Loved the combination of the local setting (Milton, WA is less than an hour north of where I live, depending on traffic), the geology content (SO many specific rocks and minerals named!), Tae Kwon Do, and family conflict. Frazier has a lot of great content on her website, including pictures of her family with great captions, talking about the parallels between this story and her own life.

I read this with my 4th-6th grade book discussion group at the library, and several o
Jan 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite kind of narrator--the intelligent, nice kid who tells it like it is and makes some mistakes (and is all the more likable for them.) Obviously this book is about having a biracial family (white and black here) and you can easily predict both the conflict and the outcome, but the strong narration and interesting cast of characters makes this easy to recommend. Also includes tenets and practice of Tae Kwon Do which are integral to the main character's motivation. ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-i-loved
The book Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in it is mainly about a boy named Brendan Buckley who loves to collect rocks and is also, smart and adventurous. Throughout his summer, Brendan has to figure out a mystery. Specifically about his family. He needs to figure out what had happened to his grandpa, Ed DeBose. He can’t get any information out of his mother about his grandfather and he needs to know the truth about his absents. So Brendan takes matters into his own hands to solve this ...more
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
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
Eva Mitnick
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
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
Melissa Dwyer
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally rated G+ by Jane McKee
With a growing number of biracial students in our schools, it's great to have a biracial main character. It is also refreshing because Brendan does not use race to define himself. He feels that his interests in science and Tae Kwan Do are more important. The book is written in the first person, as told by 10 year old Brendan. The writing is very true to this voice - it really feels like listening to a ten year old: mature enough to ask some difficult questions, b
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Self proclaimed scientist ten-year-old Brendan Buckley meets his paternal grandpa and together they answer some of life's biggest questions.


Ages 8-12-- Ten -year-old biracial Brendan Buckley considers himself a scientist. As such, he asks a lot of questions. “Because a far as I’m concerned, no question is unimportant, and nothing in the universe is too small to ask about.” Discovering his maternal grandfather (whom he has never met) is living nearby, Brendan walks a thin line between ri
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
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
Brendan's boyish earnestness is charming; he's a good kid you'd want to get to know. His desire to understand his identity and family dynamics will be familiar to many multiracial kids. Booktalk: Brendan Buckley loves making scientific discoveries. He has a notebook where he writes down questions he wonders about like “Do centipedes really have 100 legs?†and “Do boys fart more than girls?†Then he works to discover the answers. Brendan also loves collecting rocks and discovering new thing ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-fiction
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
Helen Huber
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Holly Mueller
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
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-bluestem
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
Melissa Bell
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was ok

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
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brendan is a great, almost eleven year old boy! He is curious about rocks, life, and like the title says, everything in it. He is missing his recently passed Grandpa Clem this summer, trying to fill his time with Tae Kwan Do and friend Khalfani. At the mall with Grandma Gladys, Brendan stumbles onto a rock show and a family mystery. The nice man that tells him about calcite is his other, unknown grandpa, Ed. As the summer moves on, Brendan learns about race, family divisions and forgiveness.

Matthew Winner
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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