Friday, April 18, 2014

The True Meaning of Smekday

Author:  Adam Rex

Rating:  ***  (3 stars out of 3 possible, "A")
              Paige (age 12) Highly Recommends this book!

              0 stars out of 3 possible, "D+"
              Her mom (age 45) does not recommend this book!

Audience:  5th grade and up

Sometimes the best part of reading together as a family is coming to completely opposite conclusions about a book!

For instance, Paige has read this book at least five times!  She views it as "hilarious, the best book ever!"  She truly loves it.

I slogged through 425 pages,  hating almost every minute of it!  But then again, I can't really stand Star Trek or Mork & Mindy, either.

It really depends on your personal tastes when it comes to a book like Smekday.  Are you an old, stuck-in-the-mud traditionalist who's lost her sense of humor?  Or a young, creative genius who loves fantasy worlds?

Smekday takes place in a future America, where 12 year-old Gratuity Tucci (nicknamed "Tip") encounters the aliens who have invaded Earth.  Following a quest format (like Huckleberry Finn, or, more likely, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe), she befriends an alien Boov who's chosen to go by the American pseudonym, "J. Lo."

While most of the Boov are dangerously bent on subduing America, J. Lo is a trustworthy pal to Tip.  They proceed to travel in their Boovmobile/hovercraft down the east coast and on to New Mexico (Roswell, naturally) and Arizona in search of Tip's missing mom.

The themes of the book range from the history of colonialism to the dangers of genocide.  A perceptive (or paranoid) parent might also interpret modern sexuality issues, since the Boov exist as boy, girl, boygirl, girlboy, boyboy, boyboygirl, and boyboyboyboy genders!

Yes, there are a lot of ridiculous (or hilarious) scenes between the American and the alien.  The best part of the book for me is J. Lo's pigeon English, which is really quite entertaining:

Page 229:  "I am not feeling so well.  I think these little soaps were not the eating kinds."

Page 250:  "When I left, Bicki gave me granolas bars and cans of Goke.  Tip can eat the bars, and I can eat the cans!"  "I ate the granola as we walked.  J. Lo bit into the soda can, causing soda to shoosh out the sides of his mouth and through his nose."  "'Mm.  Spicy,' he said."

Page 289:  "Good evening," said J. Lo.  "I am Chief Animals Control Officer Cher.  I understands you have a cat for us."

My 12 year-old and I have conversations like this all the time now.  (Did I mention Dave Barry recommends this book?  I never said it made us smarter.)

There are a few languages issues which I found tolerable within their context (about one "hell," one "ass," one "shut up").  Also, whenever Gratuity slips up, which is pretty rare ("Jesus", "For God's sake"), she always says "pardon my language."  (She also goes to Mass with her single mom.)  Thus, the book is best for middle schoolers who are well-grounded in their family's language expectations.

If you want to have a fun connection with your middle schooler, read this book and spend the next few weeks trying to convince each other either how wonderful or how horrible it was!  Also, enjoy developing a new English syntax with each other.  (I needs this.  Please lets me keeps it?)

Warning:  Coming Soon to a Movie Theater Near You!

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