LONGLIST REVIEW: The Jamie Drake Equation

How cool would it be if your dad were an astronaut – a real space-walking, gravity-defying celebrity! Well, Jamie Drake – an ordinary, Lego-loving, Year 6 boy – is not so sure. While his dad is orbiting Earth on the International Space Station, Jamie is at home with his Mum, little sister and rather embarrassing grandad, and missing his Dad like crazy. He just wants his dad back on solid ground. Things take a bizarre turn when Jamie, while exploring a seemingly disused observatory on the hill near his home, accidently downloads an extraterrestrial signal onto his mobile phone. This particular alien seems determined to make contact with Jamie, leading to a string of inexplicable happenings. To make things even worse, as Jamie’s world falls apart back on Earth, everyone’s eyes are turned towards the stars (and their TV screens), watching as Commander Drake prepares for a mission that will make history. But Space can be a dangerous place and even the best planned missions can go wrong…

‘The Jamie Drake Equation,’ is a thoroughly captivating story.  Although it is firmly rooted in narrative, it also has many references to mathematical and scientific concepts, exploring them in enough detail to add a dash of reality and wonder to the subject matter, without taking the focus away from the characters and plot. Through the story, the seeds have been sown to explore such concepts even further – the Fibonacci sequence, Drake’s equation, algebra, Goldilocks’ Zone, speed of light. The plot offers an interesting mix of family drama, that many children will be able to associate with, and science-fiction. Interestingly, it is Jamie, at home on Earth, who is left dealing with the unexplainable and seemingly impossible, whilst for his dad, who is living amongst the stars, things appear relatively normal (with the exception of all of the floating and the looming space-walk)! Just like Jamie and his class, children can explore what life is like for astronauts on board ISS and the history of Space travel.  They can also use their imagination to create their own alien words, sharing them through artwork and creative writing.

This book pulls the reader along on a pacey, emotional journey and would make a fantastic companion to the key stage 2 science curriculum. The cosmic adventure, whilst presenting the reader with pure wonder and imaginative detail, has a simple message at its heart about family and connecting with others.  The things that trouble Jamie the most, and upset his family equation, are ones that children can sympathise and associate with – it turns out that having an alien stuck in his mobile phone is the least of his worries.

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

Nosy Crow      ISBN: 978-0857638403