Holiday House: NY, 2007.
Austin's grandfather has come to stay for the summer. Austin expects a summer full of scientific exploration, as usual, but his grandfather is struggling with cancer and has little energy for anything. He fully intends Austin to explore on his own and keep notes to share. His grandfather brought a gift, which Austin discovers, when he sees a light glowing from a suitcase. The gift has properties of a star. The star's energy changes living organisms. Austin observes it and tries to use its poweres with unintended consequences.
Austin has difficulty reporting his observations, because they are unbelievable and his intentions are troubling. However, most of the chapter segments conclude with a rule of the universe, a more general observation about life, instead of scientific details. The story takes place half in Austin's home and half at science camp, which his parents won't let him skip despite his dire circumstances.
Pets and people change in this lighthearted examination of life, aging and death. Austin views prior ages of three people close to him (and his dog) as the star works its magic.
The story is creative and original. The star pushes the anticipation level. I like that, while addressing the grandfather's dying, the story moves in a different, out-of-control direction as Austin experiments to find a way to save his grandfather. In the process, he learns much about others' growth in life, as well as having a firsthand view of evolution. Fun stuff!
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