By: Ann Birdgenaw
Illustrated by: E.M. Roberts
Publisher: DartFrog Books
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: August 23, 2021
Debut author Ann Birdgenaw introduces young readers to a varied cast of characters in the first book in her outer-space adventure series, Black Hole Radio.
Hawk is a fifth-grade student who is a bit of a space nerd. His best friend Matt shares his love of all things cosmologically related, including their favorite t.v. show, Star Trekkers. Unfortunately, the school bullies think that wanting to learn about exploring the universe makes Hawk and Matt “super cosmo-nerds.” The best friends better be careful or the bullies will come after them.
Hawk really misses his Grandpa Ray who died not long ago. Fortunately, he has his buddy Matt, their secret space club, secret handshake, and club ring to help distract him from his sorrow. After school the two friends head to Hawk’s house to watch Star Trekkers. Their secret club meets at the clubhouse, which is actually the old tool shed behind the garage.
While watching their favorite show, the boys hear an odd sound. Beep, beep, beep, beep. What could it be? Hawk and Matt search for the origin of the noise and soon discover an old radio in a box in the garage. The radio’s alarm is going off so Matt simply turns off the alarm. But…that doesn’t stop the beeping. So then Matt takes the batteries out. And when that doesn’t work, they start getting worried. But then things get really crazy when a gravitational force starts to pull them toward the radio...and beyond.
Hawk and Matt are transported to an alien planet where they are attacked by some odd alien drones. After the drone encounter, the boys meet Yxzyurchmung, or Mung for short. Mung explains that the drones were sent from their enemies the Boogernauties, and that he and his people are grateful for what Hawk and Matt did to vanquish the Booger-Bully drones. They would also like the boys to help them get rid of the Booger-Bullies once and for all. But all Hawk and Matt want is to find a way to get back home.
In the author’s note at the end of Black Hole Radio, author Ann Birdgenaw, an elementary school librarian, tells of always wanting to try her hand at writing her own story. When a strange beeping sound occasionally called out from her garage, and it took all summer to locate the radio that was making the noise, the idea for Black Hole Radio was born. Birdgenaw has created a fun adventure series that includes aliens, zombies, ESP, hoover-scooters and even a wormhole. The story is told by Hawk and young readers will undoubtedly relate to both him and Matt. They are fun characters and it’s clear that the author spends her time in a school library because the “lingo” is spot on. The best part, perhaps, is that Grandpa Ray, who Hawk misses terribly, plays a role in the final resolution to the boys’ dilemma. At the back of the book is a glossary of space and science terms to help all “space nerds” better understand the terminology. Overall, this is a solid start to a new series and is a great way to get kids who love all things “space,” to dig in and start reading.
Quill says: Get ready for an outer space adventure that sends best friends Hawk and Matt on a crazy ride through all sorts of bizarre alien encounters that will have young readers, particularly those intrigued by space travel, itching to get their hands on the next book, Black Hole Radio – Bilaluna.
For more information on Black Hole Radio, please visit the author's Goodreads page at: www.goodreads.com/author/Ann_Birdgenaw