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.