Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion

by K Tempest Bradford (Author)

Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion is a backyard adventure-mystery by debut children's author K. Tempest Bradford, perfect for fans of Clean Getaway, The Last Last Day of Summer, and Sideways School.

Eleven-year-old Ruby is a Black girl who loves studying insects and would do just about anything to be an entomologist, much to the grossed-out dismay of her Gramma. Ruby knows everything there is to know about insects so when she finds the weirdest bug she's ever seen in her front yard, she makes sure no one is looking and captures it for further study. But then Ruby realizes that the creature isn't just a regular bug. And it has promptly burned a hole through her window and disappeared. Soon, random things around the neighborhood go missing, and no one's heard from the old lady down the street for a week. Ruby and her friends will have to recover the strange bug before the feds do. Ruby is the science hero we've all been waiting for!

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Kirkus Reviews

A page-turning mix of science, science fiction, and mystery that will empower readers to pursue their own STEM passions.


Ruby is a fun, smart, and lovably realistic protagonist, well balanced against the different personalities among her friends. Her strength lies in both her capability and her bonds of family, friendship, and community... An entertaining and highly recommended read, perfect for readers who love science and adventure-mysteries.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-5--Ruby loves bugs, so much so that she plans to be an entomologist one day. The Black tween's science project revolves around training bees to recognize and respond to certain smells, if she can convince her science teacher to support her. Her discovery of an unusual red bug changes everything. Not only is the bug unidentifiable but it also escapes by eating through the jar! Even stranger, her social media post brings government agents to the neighborhood to track it down. But when Ruby spots the bug again while spying on a neighbor who hasn't been seen recently, Ruby realizes it has grown bigger and seems to be eating metal. When the playground at an abandoned school disappears, Ruby recruits her friends to help her gather evidence to prove to the adults that the bug exists and is a hazard. The children's incursion into the empty school proves to be more adventure than any of them could have foreseen. In addition to the adventures related to the strange bug, Ruby and her friends must face rumors, conspiracy theories, and community concerns. Bradford's entertaining and informative tale highlights the value of scientific and critical thinking as well as the importance of friendship and community. VERDICT A good choice for middle grade collections, especially where there's a need for science fiction with BIPOC main characters.--Heidi Grange

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Junior Library Guild Selection

"I inhaled this book in half a day and LOVED every moment! Amazing scientist heroine, alien bug, adventures—this book has it all." —Yoon Ha Lee, award-winning author of Dragon Pearl

"An action-packed, hilarious, heart-rending story. It is perfect in every way: from Ruby's dedication to science to her incredible friend group. I am personally ready for Ruby Finley to take over the world." —Mark Oshiro, award-winning author of The Insiders and You Only Live Once, David Bravo

K Tempest Bradford
K. Tempest Bradford is a science fiction and fantasy writer, writing instructor, media critic, reviewer, and podcaster. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies and magazines. She's the host of ORIGINality, a podcast about the roots of creative genius. Her media criticism and reviews can be found on NPR, io9, and in books about Time Lords. When not writing, she teaches classes on writing inclusive fiction through LitReactor and Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion is her children's debut.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Publication date
September 20, 2022

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