by Vicki Palmquist
Every once in a while I come across a book that wakes up that breathless, eager, sense-of-wonder-at-everything-new feeling I had about reading as a child. I admit it, after 3,000 or so books the plots and characters and resolutions can feel similar to something I’ve read before.
Well, I joyfully read a book that hit all the right notes and transported me back to a bedtime reading experience where I couldn’t turn off the light, fell asleep, and then woke up in the morning to finish the book before my feet hit the floor.
Ambassador by William Alexander is just that good.
I’ve enjoyed science fiction since my sixth grade teacher read aloud A Wrinkle in Time. Our entire classroom tried hard to tesseract. Thank you, Mr. Rausch! Then our librarian helped me find Eleanor Cameron’s Mushroom Planet books. There wasn’t much else in that genre for a sixth grade reader so I moved on to fantasy … but today’s readers have a wider variety of choices.
Will Alexander does what all good heroic journey authors do. He starts us in a comfortable, right-at-home setting and then takes us to places unimaginable. Gabriel Sandro Fuentes, who recently got into trouble for letting his friend Frankie set off a rocket, is selected to be the next Ambassador from Earth to The Embassy, where sentient beings from all over the universe gather for diplomacy. When the Envoy arrives, he tells Gabriel of his new responsibility. He should also give Gabe pointers on how to travel through his dreams to reach the Embassy and what to do when he gets there. But someone is trying to kill Gabe and the Envoy is busy defending him … by creating a black hole in the Fuentes’ dryer. A small one.
Alexander plants clues throughout the book. When Gabe and Frankie argue over who has more power, Zorro or Batman, the author is neatly setting up the theme in the book. I especially loved Gabe’s fascinating, intrepid, multi-talented, and present parents … up until Gabe’s father faces deportation. Alexander’s fresh descriptions, perceptions, and actions keep the reader upright, expectant, slightly nervous, and looking forward to turning the page.
This is the perfect book for most readers whether they have experienced science fiction or not. It’s first and foremost a rocket-fueled story with intrigue, humor, and a very likeable hero. Read it!