Alien Encounter


Nine-year-old Morgan is fascinated with aliens. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, land of the sasquatch, and naturally is fascinated with those as well. When he meets new kid Lewis, whose parents own a motel named the Stay On Inn, the adventures begin with slingshots, underpants, annoying older sisters, and neighbors dressed up in bear suits.

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Alien Encounter

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Nine-year-old Morgan is fascinated with aliens. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, land of the sasquatch, and naturally is fascinated with those as well. When he meets new kid Lewis, whose parents own a motel named the Stay On Inn, the adventures begin with slingshots, underpants, annoying older sisters, and neighbors dressed up in bear suits.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this big-hearted, fast-paced, and deadpan first book in the Sasquatch and Aliens series, Harper (the Just Grace books) introduces a pair of nine-year-old boys who are propelled into an adventure that may or may not involve otherworldly creatures. Anxiety-prone Morgan first meets new kid Lewis as Lewis is hanging from a tree by his underwear. After Morgan reluctantly rescues Lewis (whose family just bought a creepy motel), a tentative friendship is born. When the boys return to the scene of the "killer wedgie" for an "underpants picnic," they are terrified by a slimy alien life form. Harper introduces a crackling cast that includes parents, siblings, and a next-door neighbor who provides a possible explanation for the unexplained phenomena. Harper's journal-like blending of short chapters with humorous titles, comedic drawings, and lists succeeds to great effect, especially Morgan's penchant for creating acrostic poems in response to uncertain situations (an acrostic for "motel" begins "Murders could have happened here"). There's no tidy resolution, leaving room for discovery in the teased sequel. Ages 7–10. Agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"The book really shines in its development of Morgan as a kid still figuring himself out in the context of a new relationship, and in its never-missing-a beat humor . . . Fans will be set-up for more antics from Morgan and Lewis in the series' future installments." - BCCB


"Young fans of the Magic Tree House mysteries will warm to Morgan and Lewis and eagerly await the next installment of their antics." - Booklist


"With an authentic, zany splash of fourth-grade humor, perspective, and imagination, this inaugural series title targets boys and will captivate elementary readers." - School Library Journal


"This book is the first of a series, and the seeds of its sequel are firmly sown, the alien’s identity barely solved when a sasquatch turns up. It’s all funny and sweet and never too clever." - The Horn Book


"In this big-hearted, fast-paced, and deadpan first book in the Sasquatch and Aliens series, Harper (the Just Grace books) introduces a pair of nine-year-old boys who are propelled into an adventure that may or may not involve otherworldly creatures." —Publishers Weekly

Praise for Henry's Heart:

 “… a genius pairing of fiction and nonfiction.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The whimsically crafted tale features not only a pleasingly goofy cartoon cast but also some very clever misdirection in the ‘love story’ episode, which is certain to elicit groans and giggles.”—BCCB

“Harper offers up a heroic heart that looks a lot like the real thing ‘without the eyes and mouth, of course,’ and he’s an immensely appealing figure, ideal for teaching readers about this important organ.”—Publishers Weekly

“This clever book is an excellent choice for story hours and primary-grade classrooms.” —School Library Journal

"Haper's journal-like blending of short chapters with humorous titles, comedic drawings, and lists succeeds into great effect" -Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Brandon West
Kids’ imaginations will be fueled by conspiracies of Sasquatch and alien encounters after they get a taste of this first entry in the “Sasquatch and Aliens” series. The story starts out with fourth grader Morgan looking for the perfect stick for building a slingshot; a preemptive move to protect him in case of a bear attack. While stick-hunting, Morgan rescues a boy named Lewis, who is caught in an inescapable wedgie, thanks to a tree branch. After meeting Lewis’ quirky family, the boys believe they encounter an alien life form. This leads them to having many misadventures making them question what they really saw. The duo ends up revising their alien encounter story and believe they witnessed a Sasquatch sighting instead! This book is oozing with fourth grade humor and will engage its target audience. This story is partially told through Morgan’s doodles, notes, and acrostic poems that help breathe a lot of personality into the story. The only real shame about the story is that it does not feature any strong female characters. While it’s likely that this will not be used as a classroom read, fans of the “Big Nate” and “Just Grace” series will anticipate reading about more of Morgan’s and Lewis’ adventures. Morgan’s first tale in the “Sasquatch and Aliens” series will make a great addition to any library. Reviewer: Brandon West; Ages 7 to 10.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—With an authentic, zany splash of fourth-grade humor, perspective, and imagination, this inaugural series title targets boys and will captivate elementary readers. Nine-year-old Morgan rescues newcomer, Lewis, who is stuck on a high tree branch with a wedgie. The boys become friends after their underpants escapade, and Lewis introduces Morgan to his family, the old motel his parents are renovating, and an unusual clubhouse. On a picnic in the Pacific Northwest woods, the boys encounter an alien who rummages through their food and then runs away. Terrified, they share the news with the local police and newspaper. Next, a letter arrives from Morgan's aloof next-door neighbor Mr. Lee, who reveals to the boys his secret underground movie costume workshop and the alien robot they saw. To help keep Mr. Lee's work secret, the boys recant their alien sighting and generate a new Sasquatch story of their own. Morgan's lively, energetic narrative is sprinkled with amusing cartoon drawings and spontaneous acrostic poems that highlight and explain his observations, insights, and understanding of people and events. Readability is further enhanced by frequent chapter/topic headings that break the text into short segments. Like Grace in Harper's popular "Just Grace" series (Houghton Harcourt), Morgan is a spunky, verbal, resourceful protagonist whose nonstop adventures resonate with self-discovery, family relationships, friendships, and creative problem-solving.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC
Kirkus Reviews
In this stretched-out series opener, two lads do little more than hang out for chapter after chapter between encounters with (putatively) an almond-eyed alien and a sasquatch while the author hints at hidden doings. Morgan first meets manic new buddy Lewis when the latter is snagged on a high tree branch by his underwear ("That's a killer wedgie"). The 9-year-old narrator continues in a mix of chatty prose, comical line drawings, lists and acrostics to introduce his (seemingly) typical family and small town. Highlights are provided first by a terrifying brush with an (apparent) extraterrestrial and then a later glimpse of a big, furry figure. In between the sightings, Morgan joins Lewis, who has just moved with his (supposed) parents into a fixer-upper motel down the road, in chewing over their experiences and poking mild fun at the foibles of their older and younger sibs. Meanwhile, Harper folds in such oddball discoveries as the motel's stolen road sign buried deep in the woods and a secretive neighbor's surprisingly elaborate underground workshop. Clues or red herrings? Only future episodes will tell. Lots of tantalizing setup plus not quite enough plot fails to equal a story that stands on its own. (Fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805096217
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Series: Sasquatch and Aliens Series , #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 624,326
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charise Mericle Harper has created many books for children, including the popular Fashion Kitty series, the Just Grace books, and Henry's Heart. She has also illustrated Ralph’s World Rocks! by Ralph Covert. She lives in Mamaroneck, New York, with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

An Acrostic Poem About Lewis

Why I Met Lewis

I met Lewis because of underpants. This is not a normal way to meet someone. When weird things happen, they are usually a surprise.

The Woods

Lewis and I met in the woods. I don’t know what he was doing, but I was there looking for a stick. It was for my new invention—the triple slingshot. Slingshots are easy to make. The only hard part is finding the right stick, and if you need lots of sticks to choose from, the woods are the perfect place to look. They’re filled with sticks. If I’d been looking for a regular stick, I probably would have been done in about two seconds, but I wasn’t. Special sticks take a lot longer to find.

An Acrostic About What I Will Make with the Perfect Stick

Looking for a Stick (Hour Number One)

I bet I’ll find that stick any minute now.

Looking for a Stick (Hour Number Two)

I can’t believe I haven’t found the stick yet.

Looking for a Stick (Hour Number Three)

Stupid impossible-to-find stick!

It’s not easy to think good thoughts when you’ve been disappointed for almost 10,800 seconds in a row. That’s probably why I suddenly remembered Dad’s saying.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the stuff Dad says is true or not. He tells jokes without laughing, and says real things while smiling. He’s a confusing guy. Even though I didn’t want to believe him, my brain was starting to think that maybe his saying was true. Maybe I wouldn’t find my stick or, worse, maybe it didn’t even exist.

The One Thing You Should Be Scared of if You Hear It in the Woods


If you are in the woods and you hear screaming, your first thought should be DANGER!

A good idea for a second thought would be BEAR ATTACK!

I don’t know if Twin Rivers has ever had a real bear attack, but last year we had an almost bear attack. My across-the-street neighbor Mrs. Lee saw a bear in her backyard. He could have eaten her, except she was inside getting some iced tea to drink with her lunch.

She said, “Iced tea saved my life!”

Our whole town knew about it because she got to be on TV, and every time the camera did a close-up, she said the exact same thing. “Iced tea saved my life!” She probably said it more than twenty times.

Mrs. Lee said she was filling her glass with iced tea when she looked out her window and saw a big, furry thing sitting at her picnic table. It was a bear, and he was eating her lunch. He ate her tuna sandwich, her strawberries, and even her broccoli salad (he must have been really hungry to eat that).

She took a ton of pictures. One of them even got in the paper. It was a picture of the bear at the table with the sandwich in his paws. He was sitting up and looked just like a person, except he was furry, had huge claws and teeth, and could totally kill you.

Everyone at school was super excited about the bear, until Marcus Wolver kind of ruined it. He made up a fake rumor. Most people didn’t believe him, but a few did, and that was annoying because now instead of everyone being excited, some people were grumpy about the Lees.

The Thing That Is Wrong with Marcus

Marcus is a nincompoop.

Normally, I wouldn’t pick a dumb word like that, but Mom said I’m not even allowed to think about the other word I wanted to use. She’s pretty bossy about stuff like that. She says old-fashioned words are more polite, but that’s probably just because no one knows what they mean.

I made up an acrostic to help describe Marcus and the word nincompoop—I think it helps.

Marcus was wrong about the Lees for a lot of reasons, but the main reason he was wrong was that he didn’t know them. This is important because if he knew them, he’d know that the Lees are not costume-loving people, and people who do not like costumes do not run around in bear suits.

I know this because the Lees are my neighbors, and even if you don’t want to, you learn stuff about people when they live right across the street from you.

Things I Know About the Lees

• Mr. Lee spends a lot of time working in his garage.

• Mrs. Lee likes to garden.

• Mr. Lee fixes furniture for a job.

• The Lees hate Halloween—every Halloween they turn off their lights so it looks like they’re not home.

My sister, Betty, says they do that because they’re cheapos and don’t want to give out candy, but Mom says that’s probably wrong. She thinks they are just tired from a long day of work and don’t want to have to get up every two seconds to answer the door. I believe Mom because even though Betty is twelve and I’m nine that doesn’t mean she is smarter than me. She is wrong about a lot of things.

Proof That the Lees Are Not Cheapos

Every Christmas the Lees give us a giant tin full of pretzels and three kinds of popcorn (the chocolate popcorn is the best). This is not a cheapo present. A cheapo present would be the smallest tin, the one that comes with only the regular popcorn.

I told this to Betty, but she said, “What? I don’t care about that anymore.” She has the attention span of a hamster.

Sometimes if you know something and other people say you’re wrong, you just have to ignore them and keep on believing it. That’s how I feel about Mr. Lee—no matter what anyone says, I think he’s OK.

What Happened to the Bear After It Ate Mrs. Lee’s Lunch?

It walked away.

What Happened to the People After the Bear Ate Mrs. Lee’s Lunch?

They got scared. Some got crazy scared, like Carla Minkel, a girl in my class. She said that even though tuna sandwiches were her favorite sandwiches in the whole world, she was never going to eat another one for as long as she lived.

She said, “I don’t want to be a bear magnet.”

Mom and Dad were pretty scared too because they gave me a whistle and said, “You have to promise to carry this with you at all times!”

Dad said, “If you’re in the woods and get into trouble, blow the whistle, and I’ll come and save you.”

I didn’t say anything, but my imagination dressed him up like a superhero. He looked ridiculous!

Mom saw me smiling and got mad.

It was too hard to explain what I was thinking about, so I just apologized instead. Sometimes that’s easier than a big explanation.

I put my head down and said, “Sorry for laughing.”

Betty’s foot was peeking out from the corner in the hall, so I knew she was listening. She loves it when I get in trouble. I’m sure she was smiling!

I had to tell Mom “I promise I will always carry the whistle” about twenty times before she finally believed me.

It was an easy promise to make—nobody wants to be a bear snack, and the whistle was pretty small. But that was months ago, and right now I had a bigger problem. I was in the woods and someone had just screamed. Even someone like Marcus Wolver would know what that meant. Screaming always means DANGER!

Copyright © 2014 by Charise Mericle Harper

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