Ritchie the Cosmonaut
One boy’s cosmic journey in Ladywell, Lewisham
Recommended age of engagement- 14+ and adults
Ritchie the Cosmonaut is a novel of thirty-two chapters and one hundred and seventy-two pages aimed at children 14yrs and older and adults by virtue of the complexity of its pervading themes of social identity in young immigrant populations, its use of metaphor throughout, its aspirant language and satirical humour in portions of the novel. At discretion of their elders, mature teens 12+ will also find this novel engaging.
It tells the story of a soon-to-be thirteen-year-old boy, Ritchie Whittle, an oddball son of West Indian immigrants living in early 1960’s Ladywell, Lewisham.
It is a time of space travel by cosmonauts, superheroes having space adventures, and social upheaval. In the midst of this milieu is a sci-fi loving boy whose heroes are co-opted from comic books, adventure stories, as well as those discovered in unusual places such as a junkyard off Ladywell Road. He holds fast to a dream to be the first boy in space, attempting to emulate Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut, the first man in outer space in the Vostok 1. But first, Ritchie has to succeed at building his dream, his own rocket- an ambitious endeavour by anyone’s standards, even Ritchie’s. Ritchie hopes to travel to the Moon to escape the narrow confines and social drabness of his existence to the vast expanse of the possible in outer space.
He meets many challenges along the way, internally as a young boy on the cusp of teenagerhood, maturing with a vague concept of self, and externally in the form of his nemesis and neighbour on Hedgerow Lane, Mr. Grimble.
Through the support of his loving yet imperfect family, and the help of an eccentric, ex-R.F.C. pilot, Mr. Boot, Head Librarian at Manor House Library, Miss Bickle, he finds his cosmic journey ends on both feet on Planet Earth.
© 2020 IC Blackman