Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Spaceheadz review

by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita, illustrated by Shane Prigmore
Simon & Schuster

Hurrah! Scieszka and Company are in rare form, with this humorous science-fiction middle-grade adventure. Fifth-grader Michael K. gets stuck with the task of showing two new kids, Bob and Jennifer, the ropes in Mrs. Halley's classroom.  He quickly realizes that they are both out-of-this world... literally, from another planet.  The only information that Jennifer, Bob and their hamster leader, Major Fluffy, have about planet Earth is from television commercials, beamed into space.  Media-savvy readers will recognize many of the catchphrases and slogans that Bob and Jennifer employ in their conversation.

The kids manage
to stay one step ahead of bumbling Agent Umber of the Anti-Alien Agency despite his phalanx of super-spy gadgets, including the Pickle Phone, a box of cereal that turns into a laptop computer and a giant taco disguise.

I found the spelling of
Spaceheads - rendered throughout the text as SPHDZ - a little distracting at first but after a little while I got used to it.

Some of the
best story content is featured on accompanying websites, full of Easter eggs and additional jokes and information, including This website is a brilliant send-up of many teachers' poorly designed efforts, complete with plenty of clashing colors, busy patterns, flashing extras, Comic Sans font and cheery "inspirational" quotes.  Agent Umber's somewhat official looking "government" website has most links leading to an ominous pop-up reading, "Access Denied. You do not have sufficient security clearance to view this page."  However, some careful poking around will lead to case file reports of The Fried Santa Incident, and a rather silly set of highly bureaucratic forms, including Shoe Replacement and Suit Pocket Addition Forms.

Similar in theme,
but weightier than Daniel Pinkwater's Fat Men from Space novella, less scatological than but just as fast paced and hilarious as Andy Griffith's The Day My Butt Went Psycho, I would recommend this for readers aged 8-10.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

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