Tag Archive: aliens


mr wuffles

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner

The masterful Wiesner returns with another near-wordless picture book.  Mr. Wuffles is a cat who disdains most of the toys his master gets him.  Then one object gets his attention, a little metallic spaceship.  But this is not a toy!  It is filled with tiny aliens who are battered by being flung around by Mr. Wuffles.  Their equipment is damaged and they have to leave their ship and head out looking for help.  But Mr. Wuffles is close behind them and who can the aliens turn to for aid? 

This is a magnificent picture book that turns from a normal cat picture book into something much more interesting.  Wiesner has created a book that bridges genres effortlessly.  He also has created a wordless picture book that never seems to be missing them.  His story flows organically and is never forced.  It has touches of humor throughout especially where Mr. Wuffles himself is concerned.  I particularly enjoy the rows of untouched toys with price tags still attached that he walks past. 

Wiesner’s art is as strong as ever.  He pays attention to details both in the human home and later when the aliens arrive.  The juxtaposition of the aliens with the insects of the home is particularly well done.  The addition of cave paintings as communication is a delight.

Beautiful and funny this is a wordless masterpiece.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

cousin irv from mars

Cousin Irv from Mars by Bruce Eric Kaplan

Family can be difficult to get along with, especially distant cousins who come to stay for a long time.  But what if that cousin is from Mars?  Teddy is not excited about his Cousin Irv coming to visit.  When he arrives, he is so different.  He eats everything in the kitchen, takes Teddy’s pillow, wears Teddy’s clothes, and plays with his toys.  When Irv takes Teddy to school one day, Teddy is scared of what everyone would think.  But everyone loves Irv, partly thanks to the way he can vaporize things.  Teddy starts to really enjoy being with Cousin Irv, and right about that time, Irv decides to return to Mars, after all they have better coffee there.

Told in a wonderful modern tongue-in-cheek and filled with asides that speak to our culture today, this book will appeal to children and adults alike.  The humor is well developed and sophisticated, yet manages to still be child-friendly.   The text is meant to be read aloud, offering just the right comedic timing.  Kaplan’s art is simple and even minimalist.  Using lots of white space, the fine-lined art is awash in bright watercolors.  But it is the language and humor here that are really the stars of the book. 

Modern and very funny, this book will appeal to parents and children alike.  It has a great quirky oddness to it that makes it all the more fun to read.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

toys in space

Toys in Space by Mini Grey

A group of toys are left outside overnight for the first time.  There is Wonderdoll, a robot, a cowboy and horse, a dinosaur, a sheep, and a rabbit.  All of them left in the dark, gazing up into the starry sky.  They are all scared, but then Wonderdoll starts to tell a story.  It is a story of seven toys left out at night under the stars, but then one star gets bigger and bigger until they can see that it is actually a spaceship!  The seven toys are beamed aboard the spacecraft and meet a glove-shaped alien who is missing his own favorite toy.  He has gathered toys from all around the world and kept them, but has not found his toy yet.  The seven toys help the alien figure out that he has to return the toys to earth and even throw him a party to cheer him up.  But will the alien ever find his own Cuddles again?

This picture book has the winning touch of Mini Grey.  She is always fearless in her storytelling and deeply understands the connection between child and toy as shown in her Traction Man books as well.  It also has the great combination of toys and aliens!  The story is wonderfully playful and children will wonder if it really happened right up to the very end. 

Grey’s art adds to the playful feel.  Each toy has its own personality visually but the seven together make quite the team.  She nicely incorporates speech bubbles into the story, giving it a comic feel that works well with the light-hearted art. 

Sure to be a hit with its combo of aliens and toys, this book will work well at a story time, or for cuddling after all the favorite toys are tucked in too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

5W FINAL COVER.indd

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The author of the Monstrumologist series returns with this riveting story of alien invasion.  The planet knew that the aliens had arrived, but the silence for days left them feeling hopeful.  Then the 1st wave took away electricity and cars.  The 2nd wave took out the coasts.  The 3rd wave brought the Red Death.  The 4th wave took away trust.  Cassie is one of the survivors of all four waves and just may be the only remaining human on earth.  She has seen her family die, her mother from the Red Death and her father killed right in front of her, but her little brother may still be alive, since he was taken to safety on a school bus.  But Cassie also knows that it is death to trust anyone at all, so she is not sure whether where Sammy was taken is safe or not.  Now she is alone, just her and her M16, trying to reach him.  Then Evan Walker enters her life, saving her from a gunshot wound.  Cassie knows to trust no one.  So how does she deal with a situation where she was to trust to heal and maybe even to save her brother.

This is one incredible novel.  The pacing is what I have to talk about first.  There are moments where I could not turn the pages fast enough, then others where I had to walk away for a bit to deal with the latest heart-shattering reveal.  This book is a dance of hope and terror, trust and knowing better.  Yancey proves quickly that he is not afraid to shock, to kill, to maim.  This book is filled with death, filled with despair, yet it is also about strength, hope and humanity.  Yancey writes this perfectly, keeping readers on a razorblade of tension throughout. 

A large piece of the success of this book are the characters and the book tells their individual stories.  Cassie is one strong heroine, who is willing to go through hell to get her little brother back.  She is not fearless but is always courageous and willing to do what has to be done.  Readers find out before Cassie herself does what happened to her little brother.  This adds to that tension, especially since one doesn’t trust Yancey not to do horrific things even to the littlest of children.  There is Zombie, a boy that Cassie went to school with, who has been trained to be a child soldier since the aliens came.  And finally, there is Evan, the farmboy heartthrob who is dangerous but delicious too.

Expect this to be one of the big books this summer.  It would be a pleasure to booktalk, since the alien invasion in waves basically sells this.  Perhaps most telling of all is that this is now the only way that I see an alien invasion happening.  It is clever, chilling and deadly.  Appropriate for ages 15-17.

Reviewed from copy received from Putnam.

binky takes charge

Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires

Binky has now been promoted to lieutenant in first against the aliens.  It means that he is now in charge of training new recruits.  But his first recruit is definitely not what he had been expecting.  To start with, he isn’t a cat!  He’s a dog!  Binky sets out to train the new cadet anyway, trying to ignore the fact that he pees on the floor, won’t use the litter box, doesn’t respect the idea of a cat nap, and is unable to pounce a fake alien on a string. Soon Binky is questioning more than his cadet’s skills, perhaps he’s really a spy for the aliens!  Now Binky sets out to prove what he suspects, but he’s in for a few surprises along the way.

The Binky series is one of my favorite graphic novel series for children.  It is a treat to see our alien-fighting (actually insect fighting) hero reach new ranks here.  The addition of a dog into the series is brilliant, especially one who may be a spy for the flies.  Add in the farting and the physical humor, and you have a series that is bound to appeal to reluctant readers as well as eager readers.

Spires’ art is done in a limited color palette.  Her black and white cat lives in a sepia-toned world that has bursts of color.  This palette could read as vintage, but here the modern lines and modern story keep it up-to-date and great fun.

This is another strong book in a great series.  It’s a must-have for all children’s graphic novel collections.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.

three little aliens

The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara and Mark Fearing

The story of the Three Little Pigs heads to outer space in this fractured fairy tale.  Here there are three little aliens, who must find a new planet to live on.  Their mother advises them to stick together, but two of the little aliens don’t listen.  When Bork sees the space rover on the red planet, she just can’t resist living there.  Gork is drawn in by the satellite circling around a planet surrounded by rings.  Nklxwcyz went deep into space until he found a planet that he thought was perfect.  It was blue with nice breezes.  When the Big Bad Robot arrived in the galaxy, there is no where for Bork and Gork to hide, because they had been too busy playing with their new toys to build homes.  So both of them fled to Nlkxwcyz’s house deep in space.  And you will just have to read the book to see how the Big Bad Robot is defeated.

While this is a light-hearted fiction book, it is also one that has some science mixed in.  The planets that the three aliens travel to are the planets in our galaxy.  They start out at home at Mercury.  Bork settles on Mars, Gork on Saturn and Nlkxwcyz on Neptune. This adds a nice dimension to the book. 

McNamara’s prose is a pleasure to read aloud.  The noises of the Big Bad Robot add much to the book’s fun and build the tension up.  The illustrations by Fearing are quirky and fun.  The backdrop of stars and the familiar planets make for a winning setting for the pictures. 

A fun, fractured fairy tale, this book will be popular with children who enjoy space and robots.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade Books.

Also reviewed by:

clunktoearth

Earth to Clunk by Pam Smallcomb, pictures by Joe Berger

What do you do when you get assigned a pen pal named Clunk who is from the planet Quazar?  Well, first you make sure to send him something you won’t miss at all, like your big sister.  Of course, he’ll send something back too, a Zoid that won’t stop following you.  Then send him socks, dirty ones.  That’ll teach him.  You’ll get back Forps in return, they look kind of like striped socks and smell like dog food.  You could try to confuse it by sending all sorts of odd things together, but beware of the confusion he will send back.  Unfortunately, he may not like having your sister there and may send her back.  Happily, the gob of goo he sent back with her will taste like ice cream.  Perhaps it’s time to invite him for a sleepover?

Smallcomb uses just the right tone here to add to the humor.  Her flat tone plays up the silly nature of the entire story, treating the alien piece of the story as if it were just a neighboring state that the boy is exchanging items with.  The strange items he receives are also treated the same way.

Because of the flat nature of the writing, Berger’s illustrations have to pop and carry the true nature of what is happening.  They definitely are successful in depicting the strange things that are going on.  I particularly enjoyed that the Zoid and Forps continue to hang around in the book, watch out for the striped burp from the Zoid!  Berger’s art has a classic feel that also adds to the humor of this space-age story.

A great science fiction picture book that will have children longing for their own pen pal from Quazar.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.

Also reviewed by You Know, For Kids.

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