COVER REVEAL for Last Summer In Outer Space by Joshua Levy

Kathie: Hi Josh, and welcome back to MG Book Village! I’m so glad we get to be a part of the cover reveal for LAST SUMMER IN OUTER SPACE, the third and final book in the Adventures of the PSS 118 series, which will come out on August 1st with Carolrhoda Books. Can you give us a brief synopsis of it, please?

Joshua: Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me back. Trying (as always) to be non-spoilery about it: LAST SUMMER IN OUTER SPACE continues the story started in SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY and sequel, EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES. The series is about kids in the future who attend a “public school spaceship” (the PSS 118!) caught up in a galaxy-wide adventure. They have to find their way home; and help others find it too.

LAST SUMMER picks up where EIGHTH GRADE left off: Main character Jack has been taken somewhere. (BUT WHERE???) And his best friends Ari and Becka are somewhere else. (WITH WHO???)

They’ll reunite (obviously!), but not everyone is the same as they were when the previous book ended. And rediscovering the rhythm of their friendship is only the one of many challenges on the road to stopping the villainous Minister and rescuing their lost friends and family.

Kathie: Did you know from the outset that this series would be a trilogy, and did this book change a lot from your initial concept to the final draft?

Joshua: Oooh. Good question. I always knew it would be a series of sorts, and that a trilogy was the most likely form the series could take. The first book (and the second!) end on pretty harrowing cliffhangers, and I had to wrap them up. There’s absolutely stuff in this book that I’ve been planning since the very beginning and I’m delighted I get to close out this story on what I think/hope is a really satisfying note.

Kathie: What’s something you got to explore in this book that’s new for the series?

Joshua: It was important for me to wrap up the plot, of course. (And I do, mostly?) But I really wanted to give all the characters (big and small) the send-offs they deserved. Getting to explore who these kids (and grown-ups) are at the end of this adventure was a real joy. What is Jack’s relationship to his parents? How do Becka and Ari resolve? Is Principal Lochner very proud of the kids? Or, like, super very proud? WHAT DOES THE SHIP DO NOW?!

Kathie: Is there anything new you discovered about your characters in this book that surprised you?

Joshua: I’ll give a specific example—and then not explain it at all! J I always had a sense of where Doctor Shrew (a character’s stowaway pet hamster) would end up. But the specifics of it, well, that has been a blast to sort out. Buckle up (even if the kids have a hard time remembering to wear their safety belts on the bridge of a spaceship). It’s gonna be a bumpy ride for ol’ Doctor Shrew.

Kathie: Let’s talk about the book’s cover – who designed it, how does this one differ from the previous books, and can you point out any Easter eggs that might be visible?

Joshua: Kim Morales from Lerner was the book designer (on this book and the previous two!). And this time around, the cover itself was illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum. He did a fantastic job echoing the style of the previous two covers, while still taking things in a fresh (and awesome) direction. (I particularly love the coloring.)

As always, the three protagonists (Jack, Becka, and Ari) are on the cover, each with their distinct expressions—this time outside the ship! Doctor Shrew is here too. With something of an upgrade. The background features the PSS 118 being chased by some of the Minister’s forces, as well as the Minister herself (and another character we’ve encountered before and who—at the end of the last book—made some pretty big trouble). I think my favorite Easter eggy element of the cover this time around is the largest element in the background: Jupiter, with a larger moon looming in front of it. You can tell the moon is populated, lit up. It’s the kids’ home: Ganymede. Where the adventure started. And where it ends.

Kathie: Drum roll, please; here is the cover for LAST SUMMER IN OUTER SPACE!

Kathie: I love how bold and eye-catching it is! Can we see all three series covers side by side?

Joshua: Absolutely. I’d love nothing more.

Kathie: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about this book, or your May 2023 release, THE JAKE SHOW?

Joshua: Always more to say. For now:

On LAST SUMMER IN OUTER SPACE (coming out on August 1, 2023 from Lerner/Carolrhoda), I suppose I’d add that, when I started the series, I set out to write books that I’d have loved reading as a kid. Fun, funny, fast-paced, character-driven, with heart. I’ve tried to stay true to that all along.

And yes, before that book comes out, I’ve got THE JAKE SHOW (May 23, 2023 from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books). It’s got all those things too: The fun. The heart. But it’s…a lot closer to my lived experience (alas, I’ve never been to space). THE JAKE SHOW is about a contemporary Jewish kid with divorced parents, trying to navigate very different sides of his family. One very religious, the other not.

I’m so happy this year will see both books in kids’ hands. I feel very fortunate.

Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

Joshua: I try to keep my website semi-updated:

I’m also kinda around on Twitter: @JoshuaSLevy

Kathie: All the best with your launches this year, Josh, and we look forward to seeing what you’ve got coming up next.

Joshua: Thank you so much! I really appreciate your time—here, and on everything else you folks do for our middle grade book community!

Joshua S. Levy is the author of several middle grade novels: SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY and EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES, as well as the upcoming THE JAKE SHOW (May 2023) and LAST SUMMER IN OUTER SPACE (August 2023). He lives with his wife and children in New Jersey, where he practices as a lawyer. Visit him at or on Twitter @JoshuaSLevy.

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