Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
It's 1963, and Jack's family is still reeling from the SIDS death of his baby sister. Adrift in his own life, Jack is convinced that setting a world record will bring his father back to his senses and his mother back to life. But world events, including President Kennedy's assassination, threaten to overshadow any record Jack tries to beat—from sausage eating to face slapping. Nothing works, and Jack is about to give up when a new friend suggests a different approach that involves listening to, not breaking, records.
About the author
Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including the board book Pride Colors, the picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story and the nonfiction books Kid Activists and Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she attends Pride celebrations with her family every year, but always leaves her dog safely at home.
- Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Award nominee
- Short-listed, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize nominee
- Winner, Silver Birch Award
- Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
- Commended, CCBC Best Books
- Commended, OLA Best Bets
"A compelling novel, even with the weighty subject, and many of the characters are well rounded and believable. The author also brings hope to Jack's family and readers without giving the story a pat ending. A solid offering."
School Library Journal
"Stevenson has captured the innocence of childhood in the face of serious issues while maintaining an enjoyable sense of humour. Jack’s struggle to come to terms with his feelings of helplessness over his mother’s depression is not only powerful, but his childlike understanding, creative solutions and enduring love for his mother will touch any reader."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Stevenson shares the grief and fears and innuendo of a time unknown to most young readers. But, by making the focus in Record Breaker a local one, with the grief related to the loss of a family member...young readers will be able to empathize."
CanLit for Little Canadians
"Stevenson gives Jack a straightforward yet sensitive narrative voice, constructing a believable portrait of the anxiety of this moment in history, as well as of how scary and lonely childhood can be."
"Stevenson keeps the tone light but the story serious as Jack copes with his own grief and his family's distress...Jack’s growth as he makes a new friend and works on his performance caps this sensitive exploration with charm. Perceptive and quite lovely."
"A quiet novel that delves into difficult subjects, Stevenson's latest shines a warm light on both grief and friendship...A thoughtful evocation of an uneasy time on both a personal and global level."
"[Stevenson] uses world records as a device to draw in readers and tell a deeper tale about love and loss and thinking beyond yourself...Her protagonist...[has] a solid, thoughtful personality and friends who are likeable for their quirks."
The Coastal Spectator
"This book will capture the attention of all readers, especially male reluctant readers. The historical references, combined with the unusual record-setting attempts, will keep the reader immersed. This book would also fit as a high interest, lower reading level selection for middle school readers."
Library Media Connection
"Stevenson has crafted an enjoyable and moving tale. Jack is a relatable character, built with right balance of flaws and charm that allows the reader to truly explore and examine the story through his eyes...Stevenson's construction and use of dialogue is particularly notable. Word choice and tone matched the situations and characters perfectly, carrying forward both the plot and character development...Record Breaker is an enticing, well-paced read that will delight readers with its engaging dialogue, its historical setting and a well-developed cast of relatable characters. Highly Recommended."
"An excellent story of 12-year-old Jack and his family coping with the loss of another family member...What shines is Jack's determination to bring his mother out of her year-long depressive slump and connect with her authentically once again...Recommended."
Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group
Other titles by Robin Stevenson
True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers
The Celebration and the Struggle
A Refugee Story
My Body My Choice
The Fight for Abortion Rights
LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and Into Canada