Discover the Clues to the Universe in This Sneak Peek + GIVEAWAY!

NOTE: This post is sponsored by HarperCollins.

Sometimes life throws some seriously challenging stuff our way, leaving us wishing we had all the answers to the universe’s biggest questions. In Clues to the Universe by Christina Li, classmates Ro and Benji are seeking out answers of their own, and while the answers don’t always come easy, this pair of unlikely friends is sure to warm your heart!

When aspiring scientist Ro and the artistic Benji are paired together unexpectedly for a science project, the two couldn’t be less excited about working together. Ro is all about NASA, space and building rockets, while Benji loves art, UFOs, and comic books. When their most bittersweet secrets are revealed, the two vow to help each other through the tough challenges life has thrown their way and stick by each other’s side through middle school bullies, family loss, and all the mysteries of the universe.

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

Clues to the Universe
AUTHOR: Christina Li
PUBLISHER: Quill Tree Books
DATE: January 12, 2021

Can’t wait to read Clues to the Universe? We’ve got you covered! We’ve teamed up with our friends at HarperCollins to share an exclusive peek at the first chapter and an out of this world giveaway so you can snag a copy! Grab your favorite adult and have them enter below for your chance to win.

Clues to the Universe – Chapter 1: Ro:

The last time I watched a rocket launch, I learned that there is no sound in space.

Over the tinny sounds of the TV, it had sounded like someone was ripping a sheet of paper right next to my ear. But I knew that to the people standing there, wearing soundproof earmuffs with their T-shirts and sandals, it was louder than that. I’d tried to think of the loudest things I knew: the washing machines at the laundromat on the corner of the street near my dad’s favorite breakfast place,

my neighbor’s lawn mower that growled to life early every Saturday morning, the firecrackers that the kids down the street set off on the Fourth of July, starting a chain of events that led to a crew of wailing fire trucks and a furious army of neighborhood moms, all swarming around one of the kids’ porches. In that order.

But none of that compared to the space shuttle.

I knew how big it was: a quarter million pounds and a hundred and eighty-four feet long. A hundred and eighty-four feet equaled almost thirty-seven Ros, if you lined me all up from head to toe. Or almost-but-not-quite thirty-one Dads, since he was six feet tall. It was like hurling a big building into the sky. Except the shuttle was even larger than the biggest building I’d ever seen.

So last November 11, when I made myself a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and sat in my living room, I watched the

Columbia launch into the air with clouds of fire and smoke, loud enough that the people watching (who seemed like tiny ants compared to the Columbia) clapped their hands over their fuzzy earmuffs and stared on in awe. As I spooned bites of soggy cereal into my mouth and wondered aloud if the rocket was loud enough to be heard from the moon, Dad replied that no, sound didn’t exist in outer space. Or on the moon, for that matter.

What I’ve learned since then is that there is no sound in space because outer space is made of a great big nothing. A vacuum. But here, sounds consist of little tiny invisible sound particles bumping into each other until they reach someone’s ear, like the people at the grocery store or in a busy train station.

Or like the kids in the hallways of my new school with its narrow hallways and too-many windows, bumping from friend to friend until they reached their classrooms. As I glanced through the window of the library door of that new school, with its shiny stacks of books and its buzzing crowds of students I didn’t know, who’d gathered around the small TV on a cart to watch the launch, I wanted that kind of silence. I had done my speaking for the day—mostly to tell the school secretary, who wore purple

lipstick and stared at me through beady eyes, that I was the new student at Roosevelt Middle School, and to tell Mom, who was nervously chewing her piece of mint gum and twisting the ring around her finger and wearing her Fancy Realtor Jacket when she hugged me tight, that yes, Mom, I would be all right on my first day here. All I wanted to do right now was sit in the library and count to ten. Or a hundred.

Today was August 30. It had been 276 days since the last time I watched a rocket launch, and I was now three minutes late for my next class.

It had been 276 days since I last sat down with Dad, hugging a bowl of Cocoa Puffs in front of the TV, and decided that I, too, would build a rocket. And what I now thought about was the half-built rocket sitting in the closet of my bedroom, and how Dad would never be here to watch a shuttle launch with me again.

Clues to the Universe Giveaway:


ONE lucky winner will receive a Clues to the Universe Prize Pack that includes:
– ONE (1) copy of Clues to the Universe by Christina Li
– ONE (1) Science in Action Water Rocket Kit from 4M
– ONE (1) Celestial Stars Sketchbook from Ooly
*Prizes provided by HarperCollins & YAYOMG!


Grab a parent or guardian and have them fill out the form below by February 12, 2021 at 11:59pm ET.

Giveaway runs from 01/12/21 at 10:00 am ET through 02/12/21 at 11:59 pm. Open to US residents ONLY. Be sure to read the fully detailed rules HERE before entering.


You must be 18 or older to enter. Please, only ONE entry per person. If selected as a winner, we will provide your parent/guardian with an affidavit to confirm that you are a valid winner who has permission to win. They will be REQUIRED to sign and return the affidavit to YAYOMG! to claim your prize. Prizes will not be mailed out without signed parental consent.

Ready to get reading? Clues to the Universe is now available from HarperCollins!

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