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Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  744 Ratings  ·  126 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 secre
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Yearling (first published January 1st 2007)
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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.
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
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
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
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 rig
Abby Johnson
An age-appropriate, thoughtful and entertaining story about a biracial kid who accidentally meets the white, estranged grandfather and strikes up a relationship based on rock collecting. This book definitely has STEM connections and it's got humorous moments. It also deals with a kid learning about who he is and how people treat him and what that means. Recommended for young scientists or anyone who likes tween contemporary fiction.
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
I remember reading this for elementary school. To be honest, that's about all I remembered, so I picked it up and leafed through so I could remember enough to write a review. Honestly as a kid I thought the book was boring and probably would've rated it a one-star then, but I gave it another shot. Honestly it impresses me more now than it did then. Still not much, but enough to save it from one-stardom.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book to help kids to understand about families and their differences.
Eve LeBlanc
Good message, boring book.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grades 4-5

Brendan is a scientist at heart. He is curious about everything and researches to find the answers. One day he comes across one of the biggest mysteries of his life - why hasn't he ever met his grandfather who lives within 10 miles? He soon finds that some questions cannot be answered by science and have no plausible explanations.

The book is full of humor and moves along mainly by dialogue and the mystery of Brendan's grandfather. Other topics: biracial families, death, science, explor
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
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
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
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