Saturday, September 4, 2010
Review of Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka
Scieszka, Jon. Spaceheadz. Made extra-strength by Francesco Sedita. Illustrated by Shane Prigmore. Simon & Schuster, 2010.
It's hard to be the new kid in school, but when you're immediately lumped together with the other two new kids, who happen to be weird beyond belief, then you're off to a really bad school year.
Michael K. is a regular sort of 5th grader, but Jennifer (square head, wears a tutu, spouts Wrestlemania slogans, eats pencils and other inappropriate items) and Bob (square head, wears a pink shirt, spouts advertising slogans, hugs fire hydrants and other inappropriate objects) are space aliens. Oh, and so is Fluffy, who looks like a hamster but doesn't act like one.
The plot, such as it is, involves Jennifer, Bob, and Fluffy trying to enlist Michael K.'s help to unite all humans into one big SPHDZ organism in order to save Earth, while acting inappriately at school and in a grocery store. Meanwhile, Agent Umber of the Anti-Alien Agency is trying to track down and eradicate the aliens.
While I'm all in favor of wacky SF, this was a bit too frenzied and scattered for my personal taste. I'm not sure that the ubiquitous advertising slogans will be recognized by kids (although maybe I'm sadly wrong about that), and certainly they will date this book in just a few years' time. There were some bits that made me laugh, such as when a girl says "See you tomorrow" to the 3 aliens and Fluffy says wonderingly, "Wow, she can see us in the future!"
The illustrations are sassy and hilarious, however, and the little scientific interludes about waves and other scientific phenomena are entertaining if surreal (until one gets to the end and sees the point).
The front jacket advertises "now with websites!" and sure enough, there are indeed websites. I'll have you know that after visiting http://www.sphdz.com/, I am now a Spaceheadz by the name of Frosted Fabric Softener. Readers can also visit Michael K's teacher's dorky website and also this site that requires a secret code (to be found in chapter 32) in order to see what would have happened if Michael K. hadn't taught the aliens about how to cross the street safely. Best of all is the fabulous official website of the Anti-Alien Agency.
Frothy and filled with silly jokes, this is SF that some kids will love, but that will leave others cold. For ages 9 to 11.