Record Breaker


There is no shelter from some kinds of fallout.

It’s 1963, and Jack’s family is reeling from the death of his baby sister. Adrift in his own life, Jack is convinced that setting a world record will help his mother recover. 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.
(Fiction for ages 9-12)

Download the free Teacher’s Guide: Record Breaker Teacher’s Guide

Add to Cart

View Cart


“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.” (Kirkus Reviews 2013)

“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.” (Booklist, March 2013)

“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.” (Publisher’s Weekly, 2013)

“In Record Breaker, Robin 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. What made this particular story unique were the inclusion of strange and quirky world records featured in The Guinness Book of Records, as well as the historical factoids, events and people of the early 1960’s… 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. Interactions between the children of the book, between the adults and between children and adults, are all convincingly handled….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.” (Canadian Materials, Feb. 1, 2013)

“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, April 29, 2013)
“[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, May 13, 2013)
“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, June 1, 2013)

“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, October 1, 2013)

“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, May 4, 2013)


  • 2014 Silver Birch Award winner
  • 2014 Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize finalist
  • 2014 Chocolate Lily Award nominee
  • 2013 CCBC Best Books
  • 2013 OLA Best Bets
  • 2013 Resource Links “The Year’s Best”