Cover image for Space race
Space race
Waugh, Sylvia.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
241 pages ; 22 cm
When he learns that he and his father must soon leave Earth, eleven-year old Thomas Derwent is upset. But a terrible accident that separates the two of them makes Thomas's situation much worse.
Reading Level:
700 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.6 8.0 42813.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.2 12 Quiz: 23949.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Thomas, a young alien, does not want to leave Earth to return to his native planet.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. Five years have passed since Thomas and his father, Patrick, arrived in the English village of Belthorp. Now it's time to go--not, as Patrick tells their friendly neighbor Mrs. Dalrymple--to Winnipeg but, instead, to "The Other Place," their home on the planet Ormingat. Yes, Thomas and Patrick are aliens, and their work observing earthlings is now done. There's a glitch, however: it's Earth not Ormingat that has become home to the 11-year-old boy, and he doesn't want to leave. Things become even more complicated when an accident separates father and son. Will they be reunited? Will they even survive to return to "The Other Place?" More importantly, will readers care? Waugh, author of the Mennym books, seems more comfortable with the conventions of fantasy than science fiction. Maybe that's why some of her plot seems contrived and arbitrary. Worse, at times she appears to be more interested in her adult characters than in Thomas and his friends, whom she tends to patronize. The result is emotional distance and a book that is enjoyable but, ultimately, a forgettable read. For larger collections. --Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thomas, 11, and his father, Patrick, live a seemingly ordinary existence in the cozy northern English village of Belthorp. In reality, however, Thomas and Patrick are Tonitheen and Vateelin, alien agents from the planet Ormingat sent to Earth on a benevolent mission to record the doings of this planet's inhabitants. Their five-year stint nearly over, father and son expect to return to their planet the day after Christmas. On their way to recover their golf-ball-size space ship, stowed in Edinburgh, a dramatic traffic accident separates the pair, leaving Thomas stranded (and pretending to be mute) in a hospital. Meanwhile, PatrickÄtemporarily miniaturized by the shockÄmust fend for himself. In outline, this plot is as whimsical and imaginative as those of Waugh's earlier books; in execution, however, the story has a muffled feel, lacking the cozy warmth and immediacy that made her Mennyms adventures so vivid. Since so much of the novel takes place in the hospital, as a bedridden Thomas waits for his father to find him, melancholy introspection often takes the place of action ("He watched the Mickey Mouse clock and went listlessly back to his effort at telepathy, though with no real hope that it would work"). Even the shrunken Patrick's journey to EdinburghÄachieved partly via catching rides on the shoes of passers byÄis strangely joyless. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Thomas Derwent and his father have lived in the small English town of Belthorp for the last five years. Now 11, Thomas has a good friend and substitute mother in Stella Dalrymple, the kindly neighbor who helps care for him, and a best friend at school. Then his father announces that it is time to return home-to the planet Ormingat. En route to a spaceship buried in Glasgow, a speeding brewery tanker cuts their journey short. The boy lands in the hospital and his father can't be found. Waugh provides an interesting background for this story, with brief descriptions of the varieties of Ormingat science, the workings of the spaceship, and the aliens' intentions for their continuing study of Earth's inhabitants. However, much of the focus of this novel is on Thomas's relationship with his father and his friends, and how they illuminate basic truths about human interactions. In her books about the "Mennyms" (Greenwillow), a family of sentient and sensitive rag dolls, the author created an absorbing fantasy that explores the many meanings of family, friendship, and even life itself. In the same way, Space Race is a thoughtful examination of friendship, loyalty, and love. Readers will enjoy the exciting plot and fast-moving action, and the sympathetic characters will stay with them long after the book is closed.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.