Middle Grade Mondays works! I was inspired to read this book when fellow MGMer Michael G-G posted about it a few months ago. (at least I think it was Michael at the Mafioso, forgive me if I misremembered)
THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY By Adam Rex
When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?
… Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.
Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent
I love this book.
I wasn’t sure I would at first. I’ve mentioned before that MG books that have a “cartoonish” feel to them usually don’t appeal to me. (Lightning Thief, Mysterious Benedict Society)
But this book is FUNNY. laugh-out-loud-fall-on-the-floor-hold-your-stomach funny. At least it was for me. Adam Rex and I apparently have the same sense of humour.
Once, while reading, I came to a page so funny I dropped the book and started laughing so hard I started crying. I was holding my stomach and my husband asked me what was up. Since we have the same sense of humour, I read (barely able to at one point) the page to him. He started laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe.
But intermixed with the funny are these wonderfully poignant moments between Gratuity and her new Boov travelmate J.Lo. You can see their friendship developing from a mile away, but it still feels warm, fuzzy, and genuine. When Gratuity finally reunites with her mom, I had real tears in my eyes. And at the very very end, well, you’ll just have to read it. Let’s say that it was actually surprisingly moving.
In addition (yes, there’s more!) there is a lot of social commentary. Not in a preachy manner. Quite the opposite. It pokes fun at the foibles of the human race. I especially loved the history (drawn in comic book form) of the Boov and how it reflected our own planet’s history.
If you have trouble finding books for middle grade boys, this is a good choice. I think girls will love it, too. And adults. And Boov. (if a Gorg read it, he’d probably punch you in the face, though).
“What DID you send?”
“It was just a little song. I singed a little song to see if the antennas were able to be sending it back to my scooter.”
“What kind of a song?”
“A children’s play song.”
“How did it go?”
“Hm. It will not to rhyme in humanspeak.”
J.Lo thought for a moment. “It goes . . . Gorg are dumb, dumb like soap, their wives are wider than they should be.”
“Uh-oh,” I said, looking ahead at the big purple ball.
“The funny part,” said J.Lo, “is that the Gorg do not even have wives.”