Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This zany caper showcases Coville's ( My Teacher Is an Alien ) ability to make the unbelievable close to credible. The young hero, down-to-earth Rod Allbright, doesn't quite believe his eyes when a small blue spaceship flies through his bedroom window and lands in a vat of papier-mache he is using for a science project. Within minutes the startled boy meets the spaceship's curious crew, and is recruited to become an integral player in their mission to apprehend an alien criminal whose specialty is cruelty. As it turns out, Rod knows too well how cruel this culprit can be, as he has been posing as the bullying Billy Becker, Rod's archenemy at school. After several surprises and funny moments (as Billy turns in his math assignment, he is horrified to see that one of the aliens hiding in his desk has chewed on it so that it resembles a lace doily), the plot ends with Billy (literally) getting his comeuppance, as the aliens carry him off to a faraway planet. Coville's typically high-spirited entertainment will appeal equally to girls and boys. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6Teachers have heard all the extraordinary excuses for not turning in homeworkmy baby brother ate it, our dog chewed it up, it flew out of my book bag. But have you heard this onethe aliens ate it! Bizarre as it may seem, this was the absolute truth! Rod Albright could never ever tell a lie. The unexpected arrival of the spaceship Ferkel landing in a tub of papier mache with Captain Grakker, Madame Pong, and crew was a phenomenal happening. The aliens solicited Rod's help on an adventurous space mission involving school bully, Billy Becker, who turns out to be "criminal genius from the stars in disguise." In Bruce Coville's typically adventurous style (PB, 1993) listeners accompany Billy as he faces androids, docility modules, galactic codes and more. The dramatic reading by William Dufris creates a suspenseful atmosphere in which danger and mystery unfold. He offers a variety of individual voices for the story's characters. His expert oral interpretation keeps the story in its galactic orbit where youngsters will be spellbound until they crashland in the Bruce Coville section of the library for more interplanetary adventures.Patricia Mahoney Brown, Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY
Sixth-grader Ron Allbright can't tell a lie, so when his teacher asks him why his math homework looks like Swiss cheese, he tells the unbelievable truth: an alien ate it. Who would credit such stuff? Nobody--except class bully Billy Becker, actually an alien criminal sought by the members of the Galactic Patrol whose spaceship has crashed through Ron's bedroom window. With obvious delight in things absurd--android parents, talking plants, and little green extraterrestrials--Coville conducts readers on a merry chase, with Ron at the hub. Bound to ring in Coville's fans, this lively sf frolic is an agreeable mix of suspense and comedy with an animated cast of people and other worldly sorts that kids will love rooting for and against.
Read an Excerpt
I was still trying to think of a way to get revenge on Billy when the afternoon bus dropped Mickey and me in front of our houses. We live about four miles out of town, and there are not a lot of other kids around, except for our stupid "siblings" (as our teacher, Miss Maloney, calls them). Mickey has one sibling and I have two. Mickey's is a little sister named Markie. She is pretty much a normal kid.
Mine are a matched set, three-year-old twins known as Little Thing One and Little Thing Two. They are not normal by any stretch of the imagination.
Their real names are Linda and Eric. They decided they wanted to be Little Thing One and Little Thing Two after I read The Cat in the Hat to them. (They had a fight about who got to be Thing One, but since Linda was born first, Eric was doomed to lose that battle. He loses a lot of fights that way 1
My mother is totally unamused by these names, but she can't do much about them because (a) they were the Things' idea, and (b) the Things are only three years old. (In case you don't happen to have any around, let me explain that three-year-olds are very good at insisting on this kind of thing.)
My dog, Bonehead, started barking as I came up the driveway.
"Hello, Rod, pick up your feet," said Mom as I stumbled over the doorstep. "I'm glad you're here. Mrs. Nesbitt needs help, and I don't want to take Eric and Linda over there if I don't have to."
"My name isn't Eric," said Eric without looking up from the blue finger paint he was smearing across a big piece of paper. "It's Little Thing Two. And I like Mrs. Nesbitt. She gives me cookies."
Mrs. Nesbitt is this old lady who goes to our church. Mom sort of watches outfor her, which takes a lot of time.
Once I asked Mom why she did it. She just looked at me funny and said, "It needs to be done."
I wouldn't have cared all that much, except watching out for Mrs. Nesbitt didn't just mean extra work for Mom. (I mean, who do you think got stuck with Thing One and Thing Two while Mom was off playing Good Samaritan?)
"Can't you take them with you?" I asked. "I have to work on my volcano."
"The twins make Mrs. Nesbitt nervous."
"They make me nervous, too," I said. I started breathing fast and wheezing to prove it.
Mom gave me one of her looks. You know the kind I mean.
"All right," I muttered. "I'll do it."
Like I had a choice.
I decided to let the Things help me with the volcano -- or at least, with making the papier-mache I needed for the next step. The volcano was my project for the big end-of-the-year Science Fair, which was scheduled for that Friday. I had been working on it for over a week now, and it was going to be big time -- a great-looking volcano that would really erupt when it was finished. I needed to add one more layer of papier-mache before I could start painting it.
"Hey, kids!" I yelled as Mom headed out of the driveway. "Wanna make pooper mucky?" ("Pooper mucky" is what the Things called papier-mache.)
"Yay for Roddie!" cried Little Thing One, who loved gooping around with the stuff.
Little Thing Two started to clap.
"Okay, you two get the tub. I'll meet you in my room."
It was one of those hot days that sometimes surprise you in early May, so I opened my windows and put on a pair of shorts. After spreading some papers on the floor to protect it from the goop we were about to make, I went to look at the volcano, which stood on a card table in the corner of the room. It was nearly two and a half feet high, built on a four-foot by four-foot square of plywood I had found in the basement. I was really proud of it.
The Things lugged in the tub we used for making papier-mache, and we dumped in some torn up paper left from the last time we had done this. Then I poured in water and paste, and we started squeezing it with our hands to get that nice oozy goop that is so much fun to work with. When it was pretty much ready, I went back to the volcano to see where I wanted to start working. Suddenly I heard a tearing sound. Before I could turn to see what had caused it, a dollop of papier-mache smacked against the back of my bare leg.
"Wow!" cried Little Thing One.
"Holy macaroni!" cried Little Thing Two.
I spun around.
The first thing I saw was a big hole in the window screen.
The next thing I saw was globs of papier-mache spattered all over the room, including a big splotch on Thing One's face.
The third thing I saw was a round spaceship about a foot across that had landed in my vat of papier-mache. I thought it must be a toy -- until a blue glow began to crackle and sizzle around it. You could smell the electricity.
I revised my opinion. This thing was real!
The crackle continued. Just as I was wondering if the ship was going to explode, it started to grow.
Within seconds it was three feet long. I wondered if it was going to get so big it would blow our house to smithereens. But suddenly the crackling electric glow began to sputter. The ship shrank back to two feet, grew a bit, then shrank again. A moment later the crackling stopped.
The electric glow disappeared.
The spaceship held steady at about two feet.
Thing One and Thing Two had been edging closer to me while all this was going on. Now I had one of them clinging to each hand.
We waited, holding our breath.
Everything was silent.
We stepped forward, then stopped as a door opened in the side of the ship.
Copyright © 1993 by Bruce Coville