More middle-grade science-fiction–now with added FUNNY! A great introduction to the genre for kids who might not go for ‘hard” sci-fi. First up Adam Rex’s wonderful The True Meaning of Smekday Published in 2007 in the US but only recently this side of the pond and as it says on the cover ‘soon to be a major animated film’ (Home by Dreamworks). I only hope they don’t ruin the book which is one of the funniest MGs ever. Tip, the protagonist in whose first-person voice the story is told is that rare thing, an older-than-her-years, wise-cracking, smart MG narrator who never becomes annoying. She’s also a mixed-race black girl a rarer thing than it ought to be and unfortunately not depicted on either of the covers I’ve seen (Publishers! To the naughty step). For once I’m actually hoping for a movie tie-in cover.
J-Lo the alien is a delightful character, his mixture of other-world superior scientific knowledge and new kid makes the sequence where he pretends to be Tip’s little brother in a ghost costume particularly inspired and I now want nothing less than a Boov of my very own. Joyously, there is a sequel, Smek for President which I look forward to.
Einstein’s Underpants by Anthony McGowan Maths geek Alexander has to take on earth-invading aliens that communicate by stink. Even worse all he has to help him are a bunch of school misfits, some rubbish ray-guns and a pair of faded old pants his mad Uncle Otto claims once belonged to Einstein. Utterly bonkers, inventive and very, very funny.
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm is smart-funny, a mind-bending tale of Ellie whose grandpa Melvin discovers how to reverse ageing. Not only that but he turns up to embarrass Ellie at school as a grumpy young man with a bad haircut and seriously awful taste in clothes. The Fourteenth Goldfish also raises important ethical questions about growing older and death as well as giving kids a quick tour of great scientists and their discoveries (Salk, Oppenheimer, Curie). Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is not strictly sci-fi. But then, it’s not strictly anything, really, so I’m throwing it in here as a total crowd-pleaser for the geeky, Star Wars loving middle-grade crowd. And no, they’re certainly NOT all boys. Write this novel, Yoda told Tom Angleberger he must and we’re very glad he did.