Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The True Meaning of Smekday
Written and illustrated by Adam Rex
Most enjoyed by 5th through 8th graders

What would you do if your mother got taken up in an alien space ship? What would you do if the very next day, Christmas day to be exact, those same aliens take over earth and rename Christmas 'Smekday' in honor of their captain? If you're Gratuity Tucci, you write an essay about it. It's been one year now since the Boov took over the earth. 8th grader Gratuity Tucci, or Tip, is supposed to write an essay called 'What Smekday Means to Me' for the National Time Capsule. The winning essay will be put in the capsule and not read for 100 years. As Tip writes her essay, she recalls the nightmare her life became when the Boov invaded.

Tip knew something was funny when she saw the mole on her mom's back. It seemed all brown and puffy, like a bubble on a pizza, but when Mom said the aliens put it there, Tip knew something wasn't right. Mom begins to speak words out loud at random. The worst occurs on Christmas Eve, when Mom leaves the apartment without explanation and heads to the park. There she is taken up in an alien space ship while Tip watches helplessly. The next day, the Boov come and invade the earth.

When the Boov annonce that all humans must move to Florida, Tip decides to make her escape. Loading what little she can in the car, she tries to drive to Florida, realizing that driving is a bit harder than she thought. The roads are blocked by the Boov but Tip manages to get to a small town when the car breaks down. Hoping to find some food in a grocery store, Tip enters to find a small Boov named JLo hiding inside. JLo offers to fix the car if Tip will let him accompany her to Florida. Hesitant to let him but desperate to find her mother, Tip reluctantly lets JLo come along, a choice she regrets when she arrives at Happy Mouse Kingdom in Florida. Hoping her mother is waiting for her, Tip discovers that JLo has a few secrets of his own, and that if they don't work together, they're sure to be caught by the Boov and any other aliens that might happen to show up.
'The True Meaning of Smekday' is a wicked crazy book. The story is much more involved and funny than I've described here. Author Adam Rex has included illustrations throughout the book. The best is a comic that JLo draws for Tip to explain how the Boov world was created. See any similarities to our world?
JLo is one of the best alien characters ever written, one you wouldn't mind meeting yourself. This is how he introduces himself to Tip when he offers to fix her car: "I am Chief Maintenance Officer Boov. I can to fix everything. I can surely fix primitive humanscar." JLo is small, blue, eats cough syrup and dental floss, and mangles the Enlish language in the most charming way. You'll find yourself reading his dialogue out loud just to see if he 'sounds' as funny as he 'reads' (he does - I tried it!).

'The True Meaning of Smekday' is a wonderfully original read. After finishing it, I can't help but wonder if it's the last we'll hear of JLo?

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