Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grade 6n/a5.464551
“I haven't read anything that has moved me this much since Wonder.” —Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places

A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s, Walk Two Moons, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

"Stellar."Entertainment Weekly

The Wall Street Journal
“Irresistible.” The Chicago Tribune
“The best I've read in a long, long time.” —Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s
“Riveting, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious.” —Kirkus, starred review
“A propulsive stream-of-conscious dive.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A gift—a miracle.” —Paul Griffin, author When Friendship Followed Me Home
“Exuberant.” —Booklist
"Full of the real kind of magic." —Ally Condie, author of Matched
“Incredible.” —BookRiot
"Full of innocence and unwavering optimism." —SLC
"Inspiring." —Time for Kids
“Powerfully affirms our human capacity for grace and love and understanding.” —Gary D. Schmidt, author of Okay for Now

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published on February 28, 2017 by Dial Books
ISBN-10: 0399186379
ISBN-13: 9780399186370
36 Book Reviews
Add a Rating
  • TedTuesday, September 15, 2020 at 10:52 am
    i think this is the prefect book for me!
    • howls
      howlsWednesday, August 26, 2020 at 5:56 pm55 stars
      A story that changes the way you see the world but a little sad
      • loketoke
        loketokeWednesday, April 29, 2020 at 10:09 pm
        I just finished reading this book, and it’s great! All eleven year-old Alex Petroski wants to do is to launch his golden IPod into space. He goes to SHARF, to try to launch his rocket, but fails. Then he goes to find his ‘maybe’ dad. He makes loads of friends along the way, including his half-sister Terra, Zed, and Steve, and Nathan, and all the other people at SHARF. I would highly recommend this book to kids 9+. Thanks for reading my book review!
        • space123
          space123Monday, March 16, 2020 at 10:07 am55 stars
          This book is awesome! It is full of suspense (in my opinion) and it is highly, highly recommended. Anyone who reads this will probably see the world differently, at least that is what happen to m before I even finished the book.
          • I Like DogsSaturday, May 25, 2019 at 8:01 pm
            This book moves you in a way that you can relate to. Alex and his pup, Carl Sagan, embark on a journey that changes his whole life. To the story, and to the characters, you can love each one and enjoy. The author was amazing and totally made this book special to me and others.
            • perry4ever
              perry4everThursday, March 21, 2019 at 4:56 pm55 stars
              SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
              • bookqueen1o13
                bookqueen1o13Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 1:30 pm
                Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i was supossed to get ths book but hey gave me a diffrent book instead i want to read it soooo badly!!!!!!
                • obsidianmirror5
                  obsidianmirror5Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm55 stars
                  Alex and his pet dog Carl Sagan embark on a journey to SHARF where they're going to launch their rocket. Soon, overwhelmed by the result of the launch, Alex makes some friends who lead him to make some decisions. Alex is intrigued to discover a family member in LA and immediately starts talking. He also talks about his brother but after a while when his friends start fighting, and it gets bloody, Alex cries and runs away with his sister. Away from home and his friends, Alex listens to his sister who cheers him up and they head home. But they're surprised to find his mom having a disease. His mom doesn't even recognize him but poor Alex doesn't know that. When he begs to meet his mom, his brother takes him after a few days, and lo and behold..... Find out what happens in this thrilling, happy-sad, bitter-sweet book.
                  • foxy3
                    foxy3Wednesday, July 5, 2017 at 7:18 pmFeatured
                    11 year old Alex Petroski is just a normal boy until he goes to SHARF(South-West High Altitude Rocket Festival ) he meets Steve and Zed that helps him find out if that notifaction from is true or not but what he finds out is amazing! Fortunely you get to experience the things that Alex goes through with the audio recordings. Alex has an amazing voice his exciting voice always makes me feel awesome. Alex has three main questions Where did I come from, Who’s out there and most important one of all How can I be brave. But with a troubled Mum, Mostly not around brother and a long past Dad Alex struggles to find the answers but with Zed and Steve (later in the story) he gets the simplest idea “you already have it” Lots of things happen to Alex during the story like going to Vegas and L.A. also thinking about going to California, lots of family issues and hurting himself very badly but with hurting himself very badly he brought the family together. Author Jack Cheng Rating 5/5 star rating This book is a book that is rated (in my opinion!) 10+ because of the hints and themes in this book may be disturbing for younger readers.
                    • chubbman123
                      chubbman123Monday, July 3, 2017 at 9:50 pm55 starsFeatured
                      Review: 11 year old Alex Petroski is a boy who adores space like his idol Carl Sagon who is a fmaous astromemer. Alex thought to name his dog Carl Sagon. Alex has a mum that sits on the on the couch and has 'Quiet Days' and goes on 'walks' and his died when Alex was three, a brother who is a sports agent. Alex Petroski wants to launch his Golden IPod into space at .S.H.A.F.T. ( South-West High Altitude Rocket Festival ) Alex made food and cleaned up the house for his mum. When he got to the train station, he had a adult ticket and he was only 11 and you need to be 13 to usethe adult ticket and he needs a adult to get on the train until a boy pretended to be his brother and when he was on the train he stumbled across a karate master called Zed and a man called Steve that suffers arguments with his girlfriend. When he got to .S.H.A.F.T. He saw a lot more people that expecting, and Carl Sagon is very scared of people. Meanwhile, he was so amazed how many people were there. When he went up to launch his rocket meanwhile he witnessed frustrastion and other bad feelings. After the rocket launch he got a email from and said there was a man as that has the same name and birthday as his dad, and said he lived in LA when he asked Steve My Dad Lives in LA and we need to go there , and steve said your in luck im going to LA today. Awesome when he arrived at the address he came across a relative he never knew he had and Alex suffers from losing a dog and his mum has schizophrenia. I recomend this book to 10-18 years because there is problems in the book and real life situations. Book By: Jack Cheng (Updated about less than a minute ago)
                      • turtlenicole
                        turtlenicoleWednesday, July 5, 2017 at 6:58 pm44 stars
                        Nice review... you convinced me to start reading it :)