Friday, April 12, 2013

SciFriday review of Aliens on Vacation



Aliens on Vacation 
(Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast #1)
by Clete Barrett Smith (Goodreads Author), Christian Slade (Illustrations)
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Disney-Hyperion 
(first published January 1st 2011)
ISBN 1423133633 (ISBN13: 9781423133636)


Source of book: Public Library (though I will be adding a copy to my classroom library!)

David, otherwise known as Scrub (don't ask), isn't happy about leaving Florida and his friends to summer with his grandmother in "Middle of Nowhere," Washington. When he arrives at her Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast, he isn't surprised by its 60s meets Star Wars decor, but he is surprised by the weird-looking guests. It turns out that each room in the inn is a portal, and his grandma is the gate-keeper, allowing aliens to vacation on Earth. Grandma desperately needs Scrub's help with welcoming (and disguising) the tourists, shopping for cartloads of aluminum foil for dinner, and taking rambunctious alien kids camping in the nearby woods. The problem is, the town sheriff--already suspicious about Granny--is a scout leader camping in the same spot. Will Scrub blow Granny's cover, forcing the B&B to shut down forever?

My Thoughts:
How did I miss this fun book? Science fiction can be for any reader, no matter what their reading background or preferences. With David's love for sports and the humorous writing style, you can get even a reluctant science fiction reader engrossed in the genre. The cover is fun, too, which should also help draw in the kids who want a lighter read. 

I'll admit, I was a little worried at the start of the book. I'm never keen on a character having the opinion that kids in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Club have "a willingness to give up any hope of appearing normal and fitting in", or that only guys would even think about being such geeks. As a woman, a self-professed "geek girl", and the teacher of many geeks, I winced. Since Scrub professed these opinions at the start of the book, though, I knew I needed to give him a chance to learn and and grow before judging him. I won't spoil your journey, but you can rest assured that his attitude on this does change significantly!

Like all good reads, Aliens on Vacation has many levels. It is an exploration of alien life. It will make you laugh. Yet it also explores friendships, family, first crushes, and the journey a young teen makes toward desiring more trust and responsibility. As an added bonus, there is a sequel!

Science Concepts:
Alien life
Interstellar travel
"universal traits" in evolution

Wonders and What Ifs
How might the families of aliens interact with one another?
What kinds of food or nourishment might alien life require?
Could we communicate with intelligent life from other worlds?

Narrator - Told from the point of view of Scrub (David), a middle school boy. Yet his interactions with Amy, an intelligent young lady who is seeking evidence of alien life, help round out the story.

Age Range - This is a solidly middle grade book that will also appeal to middle school readers. There is action, but no real violence. There are first crushes (will David get his first kiss?), but no mature content. 


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