A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga is a poignant and page-turning story of Resilience and Friendship for all ages (MG+).
Genre/Categories/Setting: Middle Grade Literature, Science Fiction, STEM, Scientific Laboratory, Mars
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My Summary of A Rover’s Story:
A Rover’s Story is the fictionalized story of a Mars rover named Resilience (“Res” is his nickname). As scientists assemble Res, he begins to experience human emotions. Resilience can understand human speech and begins to feel human emotions. He can communicate with other machines and his best friends include a “twin” rover named Journey and a friendly drone helicopter named Fly. When Res and Fly land on Mars they encounter dangers that include difficult landscapes, cliffs, and dust storms. Will they survive their Mars experience? Will they complete their mission? Can they return to Earth?
I love a story that varies the format to include letters and/or journal entries. Although we hear the story through Resilience’s first person account, we are treated to Sophie’s letters (journal entries) which provide a larger context and an additional perspective. Sophie is the twelve-year-old daughter of a scientist that programmed Resilience. One day, Sophie’s teacher asks the class to write a letter to the rover and Sophie continues writing these (unmailed) letters as journal entries during the years that Resilience is in space. Through these letters that are written over several years, we gain knowledge that Res doesn’t have about human interest in Resilience, the space program, and the passage of time. We also become acquainted with Sophie and the challenges she faces.
A Rover’s Story has a sweet and wistful tone as Res operates in the uncertain and undefined realm between machines and humans. Sophie also faces a poignant family health crisis.
Even though I enjoyed the somewhat wistful and melancholy tone, I wish the author had included a bit more humor. There are some humorous passages, but throughout the story, Resilience struggles with feelings about friendship and love that other machines don’t experience. We know Resilience will never be fully human and so there’s a sadness that tugs at our hearts for him.
Along with the wistful tone, there is an abundance of warmth in the story as Res explores the ideas of friendship and home.
Lovely themes in A Rover’s Story include friendship, family, resilience, feeling worthy, exploration, science and discovery, problem solving, overcoming obstacles, determination, courage, working moms, serious illness, hope, feelings vs. logic, grit, STEM, and home.
Highly Recommending A Rover’s Story
I’ve added A Rover’s Story to my list of favorite middle grade reads! For fans of Wall-E and Wild Robot, A Rover’s Story will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy space exploration. This story would make a fabulous family or parent/child STEM read aloud! Gift the book along with this rover toy for science and space- loving 8-12 year olds!
Content Consideration: a mom with a serious illness
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)
Meet the Author of A Rover’s Story, Jasmine Warga
Jasmine Warga grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She studied art history and history at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Warga briefly taught 6th grade science in Texas before going on to get her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University in Boston, and she quickly discovered that writing for kids and teens was the perfect combination of her dual interests in storytelling and working with kids.
Growing up, Jasmine felt a lot of pressure to become a doctor to please her immigrant father. She also didn’t quite believe she could really be an author because she never read stories about girls like her. Warga now feels extra inspired to write books that will help other young people feel empowered to tell their own stories. She also strongly believes that all kids should have the opportunity to see diversity in their literary protagonists and heroes, and that we all gain empathy and insight from reading outside of our own experience.
These days, Jasmine lives with her husband, two young daughters, grumpy cat, and very energetic dog in a book-filled house in the Chicago-area.
Is this middle grade STEM read on your TBR or have you read it?
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