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by William Alexander

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Gabe Fuentes is in for the ride of his life when he becomes Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy in this alien sci-fi adventure from the National Book Award–winning author of Goblin Secrets.

Gabe Fuentes is reading under the covers one summer night when he is interrupted by a creature who looks like a purple sock puppet. The sock puppet


Gabe Fuentes is in for the ride of his life when he becomes Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy in this alien sci-fi adventure from the National Book Award–winning author of Goblin Secrets.

Gabe Fuentes is reading under the covers one summer night when he is interrupted by a creature who looks like a purple sock puppet. The sock puppet introduces himself as the Envoy and asks if Gabe wants to be Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy. What sane eleven-year-old could refuse?

Some ingenious tinkering with the washing machine sends Gabe’s “entangled” self out to the center of the galaxy. There he finds that Earth is in the path of a destructive alien force—and Gabe himself is the target of an assassination plot. Exactly who wants him out of the way? And why?

Back home, Gabe discovers that his undocumented immigrant parents are in danger of being deported. Can Gabe survive long enough to solve two sets of “alien” problems? He runs for his life, through Minneapolis and outer space, in this fast-paced adventure from a National Book Award–winning author.

“Physics lovers will enjoy this clever series opener—but so will those who enjoy comedy, politics, diplomacy or strange-looking aliens” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—While reading in his room, Gabe Fuentes is visited by an Envoy, an amorphous being that resembles a sock puppet, minus the eyes. It informs the 11-year-old that he has been chosen as Earth's ambassador and must discover why there are alien aircraft in the solar system. Thus begins an action-packed adventure for the hero and his plucky companion that's full of unusual creatures and one very menacing ambassador, Omegan of the Outlast. In the midst of their various escapades, Gabe's parents are detained by immigration authorities and face deportation, along with his older sister, for residing in the U.S. illegally. Alexander compares the relationship between aliens in other worlds with the plight of illegal immigrants in ours. There is no doubt where Alexander's sympathies lie and the tone becomes didactic, which may leave readers weary. The political commentary dilutes a promising tale of adventure.—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI
The New York Times Book Review - Héctor Tobar
Alexander…merges the fantastic with the everyday to create an engaging and smart allegory about the hurt and strangeness of the modern immigrant condition…Immigration reform has been delayed so long, even a seemingly settled middle-class family can have a metaphorical alien in the basement. It's a painful truth of our time, and it's now told in a story that will speak to young readers.
Publishers Weekly
The Envoy doesn’t exactly rank as charismatic megafauna. It’s an amorphous purple blob who’s been stuck on the moon for a few decades and is now on Earth and stalking Gabe Fuentes. Why? Earth needs an ambassador to “everyone else,” and the Envoy believes Gabe is the perfect 11-year-old for the job, despite some reservations about his age: “The previous ambassador was younger.” Gabe accepts the job with little ado, and the Envoy “entangles” him in a form of interstellar transport that manifests in Gabe’s dreams. The alien-adventure part of National Book Award–winner Alexander’s (Goblin Secrets) first SF story is played for gentle humor: Gabe is a good observer and a willing scapegoat for friends and family alike when trouble brews, and diplomacy and ridiculousness are effective tests of those traits. Less lighthearted is the plight of Gabe’s parents, who are undocumented immigrants—aliens of an altogether different variety. The topical real-world plot sits uneasily with the galactic Dr. Who shenanigans in a story that feels too short to adequately address either. A sequel is planned. Ages 8–12. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Sept.)
"National Book Award–winning Alexander ( Goblin Secrets, 2012) injects meaningful depth into an exciting sci-fi adventure, perceptively exploring what it means to be alien."
Horn Book
Alexander creates in Gabe a character who remains tremendously likable while exhibiting courage, diplomacy, and invention in trying to take care of his family, himself, and his planet all at once. It’s a meaty and entertaining novel with an open-ended conclusion offering lots of room for discussion.
The New York Times - Héctor Tobar
"An engaging and smart allegory about the hurt and strangeness of the modern immigrant condition."
Jane Yolen
In the short time William Alexander has had books out, I have become a huge fan of his writing. He has done it again—Gabe Fuentes is imaginative, sweet, and courageous in all the right ways without being a bit saccharine or off-putting, and is most likely going to save planet earth from destruction. I can’t wait for book number 2!
Library Media Connection
"This is an excellent book."
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-15
An interstellar embassy, alien assassins, galactic mass extinctions: These are Gabe's small problems. Gabriel Fuentes is looking at a summer of nothing but babysitting his toddler siblings at home in Minneapolis, so he's pleasantly surprised when an animate purple blob arrives in his bedroom, asking him to be the ambassador for Earth. The Envoy looks like a giant purple eyeball, eats baking soda and grows a pseudopod mouth whenever it needs to speak, but its mission is a serious one: Earth is without any representation in the galaxy, and 11-year-old peacemaker Gabe is perfect for the job. The Envoy quantum-entangles all of Gabe's particles to enable virtual communication with the other ambassadors (in a process peppered with snarky, science-inflected humor from Gabe). But no sooner has Gabe begun his ambassadorial duties than real life intrudes in all its ugliness. While Gabe is American-born, the same is not true for his archaeologist mother or chef father—and their immigration paperwork is not in order. The turn to the devastatingly serious, handled with grace and empathy, may hit some readers like a sucker punch after the humorous opening, despite its foreshadowing. Even though his family has troubles, Gabe can't ignore his extraterrestrial obligations, if only because somebody from space is trying to kill him. It will take all of Gabe's diplomatic skills to find the assassin, save himself and deliver a perfect setup for Book 2. Physics lovers will enjoy this clever series opener—but so will those who enjoy comedy, politics, diplomacy or strange-looking aliens. (Science fiction. 11-13)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
690L (what's this?)
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


  • The Envoy tossed itself at the world.

    An ambassador’s business had left it stranded on the moon for years and decades. During all that time it tried to patch together a return capsule from Soviet equipment abandoned on the surface. But this had never actually worked, and now it needed to hurry, so it gave up on the capsule and built a cannon instead. Then the Envoy aimed itself and its cannon at the world.

    This was not the tricky part.

    Moving through vacuum for several days was not the tricky part either. The Envoy had no ship, no craft, no transportation. It had only itself: the spherical, purple transparency of its own substance. It clenched its outer layers, becoming glass-like to bounce radiation away and keep itself from dehydrating. But it remained clear enough to let light in. All of it was sensitive to light. It was its own big, purple eyeball. The Envoy watched the approaching planet with all of itself, and enjoyed the view.

    The nightside of the globe grew large ahead. Constellations of bright and artificial light stretched out across landmasses. The Envoy expected to land in Russia again, or possibly in China, but North America stretched out below it.

    The first hints of atmosphere scraped against its skin. The Envoy winced. This was going to hurt. This would be the tricky part.

    The Envoy became a blind eye, opaque, closing itself and all its senses. The view was about to become too searingly bright to appreciate. Air turned to plasma against the friction of the Envoy’s passage.

    It shed several layers of scorched self. Then it slowed down by expanding, thinning its substance against air currents like the stretched skin of a flying squirrel or a flying fish or a flying squid. It became its own parachute—though it didn’t slow down nearly as much as a real parachute would have. The Envoy tumbled into a rough glide. It became transparent again, letting light pass through it, trying to see where it was going and what it was falling toward. It failed to see very much.

    The Envoy smacked into a small pond in an urban park. The noise and splash startled several geese, ducks, catfish, and turtles.

    It sank into the mud and muck at the very bottom and felt itself gradually cool, losing the sting of impact. It needed time to collect itself—though not literally, for which it was grateful. Its substance remained in one single piece.

    A few curious fish tried to nibble the Envoy. It tried to ignore them. Then it made a limb and shoed them away. Finally it stretched out and relearned how to swim. It had been a long time since the Envoy had lived in an aquatic environment, but now it remembered how to wave and ripple like a manta ray. It swam up to the surface of the pond. There it carefully observed the shore, the surrounding park, and the playgrounds.

    The Envoy spent many days floating and recovering from planetfall before it noticed Gabriel Sandro Fuentes.

  • Meet the Author

    William Alexander won the National Book Award for his debut novel, Goblin Secrets, and won the Earphones Award for his narration of the audiobook. His other novels include Ghoulish Song, Ambassador, and Nomad. William studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at the Clarion workshop. He teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Like the protagonist of Nomad and Ambassador, William is the son of a Latino immigrant to the US. Visit him online at and, and on Twitter via @WillieAlex.

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    Ambassador 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
    224perweek More than 1 year ago
    Wow. This story started off good then got all serious and stuff and went downhill fast. Started off about aliens as in outer space. Then switched gears and was about being deported and aliens as in illegal. What a strange combination. Not very creative either. Did not go well together.