Connecting everyone to the world of story

Image Alt

Story Links

  /  Reviews   /  Middle Grade Readers   /  Lani and the Universe

Lani and the Universe

By Victoria Carless

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Brisbane based Victoria Carless’s previous novels include the YA novel The Dream Walker and the middle grade Gus and the Starlight, reviewed in StoryLinks. Lani and the Universe is another charming adventure for middle grade readers.
Lani is 11, interested in science, an indoorsy person, with one best friend at school. Her ambition is to win the school’s heat in the Junior Interschool Science Championship Cup. When her mother proposes a ‘tree change’ to a  commune in the country, leaving their comfortable home with its upgraded fibre optic cabling, Lani is horrified.
Once there, having left her overworked Dad behind, things are just as grim as she supposed. Gradually though her views change. She learns candle making  with Rain, makes friends with Lentil, an unusual boy with a kind heart. She meets Meadow, an astronomer who may have discovered a new star. Maybe the situation is not as bad as she thought? When the land is sold to a developer and it looks as if the residents may be evicted Lani suffers conflicting loyalties. How can she reconcile these two separate worlds?
Carless is very funny when describing Lani’s initial reaction to the country: ‘They passed cow paddocks dotted with lumpy beasts, and a tumbling fence line by a muddy creek, which trickled relentlessly. It was giving life to obscenely healthy-looking grass, rife with annoyingly chirpy frogs. And  dirt, dirt everywhere, as far as the eye could see – … She is clever and perceptive in showing Lani’s gradual somewhat grudging change of mind culminating in her more thoughtful, mature view of her parents, her friends, her environment and her own place in the world.
Through Lani Carless covers a lot of territory – ambition, friendship, families, deceit, country life versus city life, environment protection, and  understanding the world around you, all done by humorous writing that will appeal to young readers.  She admirably succeeds in making a nerdy science kid funny and engaging. This rich plum pudding of a story will be enjoyed by many readers aged 9 +
The Teaching Guide is  useful for teachers wanting to talk about language features  to their students. The guide as well as the book also features excellent resources to explore science concepts further.
Harper Collins 2024


1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

Error: Contact form not found.

Free shipping
for orders over 50%