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Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius (Journals of a Cardboard Genius) Paperback – February 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5–Self-styled genius Alex has had it with his little brother. Jonathan is always hanging around–asking weird questions, messing with Alex's stuff, and generally being a pest. Mom says it's all just normal sibling rivalry, but Alex decides there is only one thing to do–leave Earth–and Jonathan–forever. Using his astounding scientific ability–plus lots of grocery boxes, duct tape, and assorted bits of junk, Alex designs the Star Jumper. This advanced cardboard spacecraft will take him across the galaxy to a brother-free planet–if only he can keep the first grader out of the way until liftoff. The first-person narration is lively and realistic, bouncing between mock scientific jargon and exasperated brother-speak. The short text is illustrated with sketches from Alex's invention notebook, including carefully labeled diagrams of the ship and its high-tech, recycling-bin gadgetry. More gently tongue-in-cheek than Dan Greenburg's irreverent Zack Files (Grosset & Dunlap), this early chapter book is a good choice for younger science-fiction fans.–Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. In this gently amusing chapter book, the versatile Asch addresses two timeless subjects: the evil of little brothers and the joys of invention. Alex's younger sibling is "the biggest pain in the butt this side of Alpha Centauri." But Alex, an immodest kid genius, has a plan: he carefully transforms cardboard boxes and duct tape into a spaceship, a micro-blaster, and a duplicator. He is going to the end of the universe to escape. Jonathan, who thinks Alex is making him a castle, has other ideas. When the duplicator makes too many Alexes and Jonathans, both brothers, upon returning to their single selves, finally find some common ground. Told in Alex's voice, the sf fantasy is extended with informative references to math and science, a subplot about Alex's crush on a neighborhood girl, and many illustrations--primarily sketches of the contraptions. Readers who like to tinker and dream will be the best audience for this tongue-in-cheek tale, in which the lines between imagination and reality are intriguingly blurred. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Series: Journals of a Cardboard Genius
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press (February 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553378873
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553378877
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Robinson on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Today I read Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius, by Frank Asch. This is a quick and accessible read, which I would put at about a third grade reading level. Alternatively, it could suit older reluctant readers, especially boys.

The book is about a boy named Alex who has a keen interest in scientific invention, a healthy ego, and a pesky six-year-old brother named Jonathan. In order to get away from Jonathan, the bane of his existence, Alex decides to build a spaceship out of cardboard boxes, and travel across the universe. Using odds and ends from around his house, he invents all of the necessary trappings for space travel: the ship, the space suit, the oxygen generator, the atom slider, and the micro blaster (you'll have to read the book for the details). But before Alex can leave town (yes, the spaceship really does fly), Jonathan reveals his own capacity for invention, and throws a wrench into the works.

I think that this book will have considerable appeal for young boys, thanks to the details of the spaceship and the other inventions. I think that for boys who have annoying younger brothers, the book may be irresistible. The sibling rivalry is realistically depicted, as are the caring psychologist parents. I personally found Alex's ego a bit off-putting (he keeps going on about what a genius he is), but I think that the book's target audience will be able to relate to this.

What I love about this book are the illustrations. This is a chapter book, but scattered throughout the text are small black and white illustrations, drawings from Alex's journal. My favorite is a map of the universe, labeled "me" at one end, and "Jonathan" at the other end. Anyone who has ever had a younger sibling will immediately relate to this drawing.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a teacher who thought my boys book club for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders would like "Star Jumper". They loved the book from page 1, even the boys who are usually reluctant readers!!! Their parents commented on how eagerly their children read this book. By the way, we were inspired to build our own cardboard spaceship. A real winner!!
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Format: Paperback
Alex got 10 boxes of cardbord. He started to build a star jumper. then he went into the atic and got himself a space suit. then he got into his sta-r jumper and blasted off!

I like this book because it was about space. I would recommend this book to a 7 year old who is an advanced reader. Anyone who is interested in science and space will like this book. review written by a 7 year old boy
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My 8 yr old is a very good reader but I think has been a bit intimidated by chapter books when I've tried to get him to select some to read. But he dove right into this one (and the rest of the series as well). I think there's just enough small pictures here to make this a great transition book for him.

My 6 year old (1st gr.) is a bit of a reluctant reader, but he liked us reading these books to him enough to give them a shot at reading them himself. There's a number of big science-ey words that are beyond him, but the material seems to keep him interested and trying, a couple pages at a time.
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Format: Paperback
My grandson, a highly gifted, engineering-oriented, 5 year-old, kindergartner, LOVES the above books!

I read Star Jumper and Gravity Buster to him in back-to-back fashion in one week this past summer, then decided to save Time Twister for a "rainy day". I can say that these two books were not merely great entertainment, but that they also significantly altered the outward manifestation of the inventor mindset that he has always carried within him. He has been energized by Alex's creativity, and has built several inventions out of cardboard following the reading of each of these books.

I started reading Time Twister to him this afternoon, and I am truly looking forward to seeing the expected burst of creativity that this reading will almost certainly bring about again this time.

I especially appreciate how Alex's imaginary inventions have a great deal of basis in scientific fact and theory. Asch's writings have given the two of us an opportunity to discuss theories that my grandson might otherwise not have been exposed to for several years to come. I like to think that the discussions that we have had centering around Alex's inventions have given him some ideas of where he could focus his inventor's interests later in life.

My only regret is that after reading this book, there is nothing left in this genre to look forward to in Asch's writings. I am heartened, however, by his website that teases that he is writing another science fiction book, though not following the cardboard genius model. I can only say that my grandson and I are anxiously awaiting its release!

PS I also plan to have my grandson read a few pages of Time Twister to me. Up to now, he has been a "closet" reader (i.e.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book with my 4 and 7 year old. They both loved it and I was honestly entertained as well. The main character is a bit of an egomaniac and he isn't very kind to his younger brother most of the time. However, my kids were able to grasp the fact that this wasn't exactly a good thing and empathize with his younger brother (who is a troublemaker but really just wants to play with his older brother).

I liked the fact that it put an emphasis on intelligence, creativity and inventing. Both of my boys made ships out of cardboard for days after. There were also some absurd situations reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes comics where Calvin is using his imagination and creating inventions that my boys loved.

The things I thought were gratuitous were:

- The constant name-calling was a bit much (and I'm not a prude). It was funny, but I did notice my 7 year old drawing name-calling inspiration from the protagonist of this story and by the end of the book it was a bit monotonous.

- The fact that there was a love interest (albeit an innocent and silly one) was totally unneeded in a children's book.

The bottom line: with a few minor caveats, this is a great one for kids and adults alike.
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