Gratuity is in the 8th grade and assigned the titular writing assignment. This turns into a long journal entry that explains how she can be writing an ordinary school essay after a successful alien invasion. The Boov are (of course) an advanced species against which our earthly defense systems are no match and they (of course) need our planet.
Gratuity sets out to find her mother who was abducted just prior to the forced relocation of the entire U.S. population. Caught, by one of the Boov, who calls himself J.Lo and wants to be her friend, she must outrun or outwit the other Boovs, well-meaning adults and even more aliens.
The premise may not sound funny, but trust me this book never stops being absurd.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
How could this not be on our geeky youth hit list? It’s a joke-a-minute romp with an everyday kid who has to drive a souped up floating car across the country with an alien in the passenger seat. Parents will get half the jokes, kids the other half. Enjoy this one together. Maybe on a road trip! It’s perfect.
Rating (4 stars)
Rex never stops poking fun at everything and anything. The dialog is absolutely ridiculous.
Gratuity ends up driving a car that floats and is partly fashioned out of a slushie machine. The Boov thought Earth would be funnier and more exciting, because they studied our television shows. Roswell really did get visited by aliens…just not the ones we think.
My favorite bit explains how Disneyworld (aka Happy Mouse Kindom) is stays so perfect. It’s because there are really two of them, one upside down, and they get switched in the night.
There are lessons for us in all of this, about what is and is not good for us, cultural norms, first impressions, friendship and a reminder that what goes around comes around. The parallel to our treatment of native cultures, especially in U.S. history is not subtle. But this is a kid’s book and it never stops being fun and funny.
I listened to the terrific Listening Library audio version. It was so much fun to have the Boovish voice of J. Lo brought to life (think Yoda). I recommend a hybrid, however, because the illustrations are not to be missed.
Rex created fabulous realistic sketches throughout that are “photos” taken by Gratuity as well as the graphic novel style “Pictorial History of the Boovish Race with Pictures by J.Lo, edited & lettered by Gratuity Tucci.” It seems that while Boov cannot write in English, comic books are a “serious art form on Boovworld, not just stories of badly dressed men hitting each other.”
There is also an amusing map of the United State of America (formerly know as Arizona.) Read-along for the wonderful dialog and Boov voice, while enjoying all of the visuals of the book.
Read this book:
for a rollicking look at the foibles of our culture through the eyes of an eleven year old survivor and a hapless alien.
Don't Read this book:
without a taste for silly.
Once you're done, do this:
Compare it with the movie it inspired, Home, from Dreamworks