Cover Art by
Delacorte Press/Random House, Inc., 2007
Ten-year-old Tae Kwon Do blue belt and budding rock hound Brendan Buckley keeps a CONFIDENTIAL notebook for his
top-secret scientific discoveries. And he's found something totally top-secret. The grandpa he's never met,
whom his mom refuses to see or even talk about, is an expert mineral collector, and he lives nearby! Brendan
sneaks off to visit his grandpa Ed DeBose, whose skin is pink, not brown like Brendan's, his dad's, or his
late Grampa Clem's.
Brendan sets out to find the reason behind Ed's absence, but what he discovers can't be explained by science,
and now he wishes he'd never found Ed at all...
Also See: Audiobook Excerpt | Excerpt from Chapter One | Behind the Story | Order the Book | Discussion Guide | TeachingBooks.net
2008 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award, given by the American
Al Roker's Kids' Book Club selection
for July 2008, NBC's TODAY Show.
An OPRAH'S Book Club Kids Reading List selection.
Notable Social Studies
Trade Book for Young People 2008, a cooperative project of the National Council for the Social Studies and the
Children's Book Council.
Children's Books of the Year 2008 (starred for outstanding merit), by the Bank Street College of Education in New
Named one of Bank Street Bookstore's "40 favorite books from the last 40 years."
Chosen for the King County Library System's 2010-2011 Global Reading Challenge Program.
Nominated for the Illinois School Library Media Assocation's 2013 Bluestem Award.
Nominated for Pennsylvania's 2010-2011 Young Readers' Choice Book Award.
Nominated for Indiana's 2010-2011 Young Hoosier Book Award.
Nominated for Rhode Islands's 2009-2010 Children's Book Award.
Nominated for South Carolina's 2009-2010 Children's Book Award.
Nominated for Florida's 2009-2010 Sunshine State Young Readers Award program (Grades 3-5).
Nominated for Washington's 2010 Sasquatch Award sponsored by the Washington Library Media Association.
Nominated for Oklahoma's 2010 Sequoyah Book Awards program (Grades 3-5).
Nominated for Maryland's 2009-2010 Black-Eyed Susan state children's book award.
Nominated for Arizona Library Association's 2010 Grand Canyon Reader children's choice award.
Chosen for Seattle Public Library's 2009 Global Reading Challenge Program.
2008 Horace Mann Upstanders Award
honor book, by Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Booklist: "By frequently lightening her tone, Frazier delivers her messages without using an
overly heavy hand. Brendan is a real kid with a passion for science and also a willingness to push his
parents' rules; he's not just a placard for the author's central message." (Jan. 1, 2008)
School Library Journal: "This is an absorbing look at a 10-year-old boy who has never had to
deal with race and prejudice, who collides into years of anger and hurt in his family and must create a new
identity for himself. . . . Frazier writes affectingly about what being biracial means in 21st-century America."
(Oct. 1, 2007)
Kirkus Reviews: "Brendan is an appealing character with a sense of honor, . . . curiosity and
intelligence. A good, accessible selection to inspire discussion of racism and prejudice." (Sept. 15, 2007)
The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN): "This book portrays real feelings of a real bi-racial
kid growing up in today's society. It's also just a fun read for kids, especially boys . . ." (Bill's Best Books,
TeensReadToo.com: "Frazier has created a likable young boy with unique interests and love for his family.
Readers will enjoy his adventures and see past generations with new awareness."
Once Upon a Book blog: "This book deserves a 5/5 rating for its balance of serious topics and humor,
complex characters, and realistic ending. It should be on every teacher's bookshelf."
An audio version of Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It has been produced by Random
House's Listening Library. The narrator, Mirron Willis, is exceptional (he also narrated Christopher Paul
Curtis's Elijah of Buxton). Listen to an excerpt.
I ran my hand across my notebook's title. Summer vacation had finally arrived. That meant seventy-nine days
to find answers to the questions I'd already recorded. Seventy-nine days of scientific experimentation. And
seventy-nine days to mess around with Khalfani, swim in his pool, and get to the next level in Tae Kwon Do.
Khal and I are only five ranks away from our black belts.
The thing I wouldn't be doing was fishing every Monday with Grampa Clem. When Grampa Clem died in April,
it was sort of like having my leg taken away. You always expect it to be there, but then to one day wake up
and find it gone? Suddenly everything's different and there's nothing you can do about it.
Now Gladys is my only grandparent, because my other grandma died right after I was born and I've never met
my other grandpa. Mom doesn't talk to him. Or about him, either, which makes me wonder what happened. But I
guess I can't miss someone I've never even known.
The one time I asked where he was, she bit on her lip, and her forehead bunched up like when she cut her
thumb and had to get stitches. She just said, "Gone," and we'd talk about it when I was older. So that's
the One Thing I know not to ask questions about.
I turned to the front section of my notebook, which I'd titled The Questions. The back section was
called What I Found Out. Under, "Do centipedes really have 100 legs?", "What's inside a black hole?"
and "Do boys fart more than girls?" I wrote my latest questions about dust.
Mr. Hammond told us that scientists' questions compel them to find answers, and that's how they make
their discoveries. I asked Mr. Hammond what compelled meant, and when he said it meant to have
an uncontrollable urge that won't be satisfied until you find what you're looking for, I knew exactly
what he was talking about. I get compelled all the time.
I ran to the bathroom with an eyedropper from my microscope kit and suctioned some water from the faucet. I
went back to my room, squeezed a couple drops onto the slide and pressed another slide on top. I stuck the
dust under the lens.
The cool thing about my scope is that it displays whatever it's looking at on my computer. I clicked a
couple times to open the program and up popped my dust – magnified 400 times.
It was basically a bunch of small flakes. But flakes of what? I opened an Internet article called "Dust
Creatures" and started reading.
The article said when you examine household dust under a microscope you can usually spot ant heads or other
insect body parts. I had just clicked over to my microscope display to look for bug legs when a car
door slammed outside.
I glanced out the window. Dad was back with my grandma, Gladys. A minute later the front door opened.
"I'm here!" Gladys shouted.
I got up to say hi because I wasn't seeing any bug parts, and because any minute Gladys would show up
in my room anyhow. Gladys doesn't pay attention to my "Experiment in Progress" sign.
I stood at the top of the stairs that go down to the front door. Gladys was bent over, pulling off her shoes.
"These bad boys got to go!"
Dad tried to squeeze in behind her.
Gladys looked at him over her shoulder with her eyebrows raised. "Where's the fire?"
Mom says that Gladys can be testy, like a bull that's been prodded one too many times. Gladys's
nostrils were flared. I could almost see the long horns coming out the sides of her head. Dad was about to get it.
"Hi, Gladys," I said. She stood up straight and Dad slipped through. He tipped his head at me. That was
his way of saying, "Thanks, son." Even if all my questioning and experimenting sometimes gets on Dad's
nerves, we're still partners.
"There's my granbaby." Gladys started up the stairs. "Come give me some sugar."
Gladys pushed herself along by the handrail, as if she were a hundred years old or weighed five hundred
pounds. She's old, but she's not crippled or hunchbacked or anything. And she's not fat. Gladys reminds
me of a chicken with a rooster head. She's got skinny legs and bony elbows that stick out like wings.
Her hair is short and black, but on top it's orange and piled up high like curly popcorn. It comes forward,
sort of, like it's going to tip over. The top is the part that makes me think of a rooster. And she wears pointy
I stepped down a few stairs and kissed her cheek. Gladys's cheek feels like a football. I know because I
tried kissing a football once to see if it felt like Gladys's face. Gladys's skin is about the same color as
a football, too. I wrote these things in one of my observation notebooks, and I for sure marked that one
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