Friday, February 1, 2008


Sci-fi fans, here's one of you. We have just finished The True Meaning of Smekday, the story of a girl (named "Tip"), a cat (named "Pig"), an alien (called "J.Lo."), and their adventures as they suffer the indignity of relocation when Earth is invaded by J.Lo.'s people. Through all this they are searching for the Tip's abducted mother. Written by illustrator Adam Rex, The True Meaning of Smekday is funny, smart, a bit irreverent, and completely satisfying.

Imagine aliens land in your city. They take your mother (they took her once before, and made her fold laundry on their ship, but no one believes that story). The aliens relocate all the humans to Florida after they realize that the two species just can't get along. You miss the relocation ship, and try to drive yourself from Pennsylvania to Florida (though you are 11 years old); your car breaks down, and is fixed and enhanced by a renegade alien...and then the real adventure begins. This is the tale of Tip and J.Lo., as they learn about each other even as they avoid the authorities, try to find supplies and make their way south. And to complicate things, a second group of aliens shows up.

The story is written as an essay to be entered in a time capsule competition, and is illustrated by Tip's "photos" and J.Lo.'s "drawings". There are no chapters, which makes the book difficult to put down--it just continues on and on.

Nice touches include a reference to Mass, and the Tip saying "Hail Mary's". Possible problems include the Lord's name used as an expletive (a quick black marker takes care of that), and single use of the words "fart", "as*", and "turd", always followed with an apology, and never used for name-calling. There is a fleeting "gay" reference in the abstract (can be skipped) and a description of flamingos "like drag queens". Tip's father is never mentioned; she lives with her single mom, who seems to have a mild mental illness. Overall, these are minor issues in a book which is worth reading on several levels. The themes of relocation, race (Tip is biracial), family and humanity are treated brilliantly without being heavy-handed--quite an accomplishment for a children's novel.

A nifty marketing gimmick is a YouTube video of a human interacting with one of the aliens (if you find it funny, this book will appeal to you...if not, avoid the book at all costs):

More details at

1 comment:

~cactus mouse~ said...

Thank you!! I got this book after reading your review, and what a fun read it is! DD18 has walked off with it now, and ds9 and I are reading it together, too.