The Barnes & Noble Review
Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith have created the ultimate alien with Henry P. Baloney. Trying to avoid Permanent Lifelong Detention for yet another tardy arrival, Henry proceeds to tell a rather detailed and dynamic story about a trusty pencil, a wayward truck, and a fickle flock of Astro guys. Sound a little strange? Of course it is, but it sure is fun! Does Henry eventually make it to class? Of course, but he's seven minutes late!
Throughout the story, Scieszka uses words from languages around the world: Italian, Swahili, and Welsh, just to name a few. A pencil is a "zimulis," a playground is a "speelplaats," and a noise is a "twrf." Scieszka wanted to show kids that learning to read can be fun, even when the words look totally weird. Henry's outrageous storytelling also displays that unmatched ability to be creative in tough situations.
Illustrator Lane Smith uses amazing patterns and striking colors to recreate the lively imagination of Henry P. Muted grays and browns are matched with brilliant reds to produce awesome combinations and the quasi-comic-book layout lets Henry's story unfold like an action packed movie. Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith have created an amusing tall tale, sure to appeal to all the many Henry P. Baloneys of this world. (Amy Barkat)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This book's gleaming silver cover and little green namesake signal intergalactic adventure. Fortunately, Scieszka and Smith (Squids Will Be Squids) prefer innovation to UFO cliches, and this tale of an alien truant is also a language game. Lime-colored, freckled Henry P. Baloney is late for class and faces "Permanent Lifelong Detention" from Miss Bugscuffle. He concocts an excuse that spools across the pages in emphatic, italicized capital letters. " 'I would have been exactly on time,' said Henry. 'But... I misplaced my trusty zimulis. Then I...um...found it on my deski.' " Smith's airbrush-speckled collages zoom from a closeup of a pencil to Henry leaning over a kidney-shaped desk; thus, "zimulis" and "deski" enter the vocabulary. Henry goes on to describe being crowned "kuningas" of another planet and almost getting shot with a "blassa." A "Decoder" at the back of the book reveals that all 20 unfamiliar terms are either non-English (the Dutch "speelplaats" means "playground") or wordplay ("flying saucer" becomes "sighing flosser"). Contextual cues allow readers with no prior knowledge of Italian, Latvian or Polish to comprehend Henry P.'s hyperboles: "I jammed the razzo controls with my zimulis so I could land behind szkola and still be on time," says Henry, and Smith pictures a rocket console, a variety of dials and Henry's pencil. Amateur linguists will have a field day exploring this non-nonsense. All ages. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Outrageous spins on familiar themes are this team's specialty. Here Henry must come up with an excuse for being late to tell his teacher, Miss Bugscuffle. And so he begins his wild narration, filled with words whose meanings we must guess. Blasting off from a launch pad to a strange planet, he encounters, charms, then enrages the inhabitants, finally surviving a rough return. The Afterword informs us that this is a transmission from outer space, in many Earth languages, while a Decoder page gives us the original language and translation. A wild romp in few words, with new ones to learn as a bonus, this zany narrative demands appropriate visuals. Smith obliges with very large type set in capitals appearing in boxes, while other boxes of varying sizes attempt to show us Henry's out-of-this-world adventures. The mechanical look of everything, including our hero, appears produced with electronic help. Don't miss the shiny paper jacket over a textless cover, or the knock-out endpapers. A CD with the book includes a screen saver, wallpaper and a great game to practice the new vocabulary, along with information about the creative pair and their other publications. 2001, Viking/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $15.99. Ages 5 to 11. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-A small green alien would have been exactly on time for class, he explains to his teacher, except for the fact that he misplaced his zimulis (pencil)-and so begins a hoot of a tall tale "received and decoded" from deep space by Scieszka with "visual recreation" by Smith, his cohort in hip hilarity. This could be the story of any Earthling student with a vivid imagination who needs to come up with "one very good and very believable excuse." In short action-packed sentences, Henry describes an adventure involving a torakku (truck), razzo (rocket), funny piksas (pictures), and a narrowly avoided zerplatzen (you guessed it!) all over the speelplaats (playground). The trusty zimulis makes several appearances throughout the fast-moving narrative, culminating in a final (dis)appearance at story's end. The "outer space" vocabulary is culled from languages from Dutch to Welsh, with a few transpositions and spoonerisms tossed in. A handy word decoder is included. Smith's intricate illustrations/assemblages work perfectly with bold white-on-black text blocks. This title continues the slightly subversive bent of other Scieszka and Smith collaborations like Math Curse and Squids Will Be Squids with its silly yet sly wit and clever styling. Wrapped in an eye-catching, high-tech silver cover, Baloney is sure to fly off the shelves and out the pordo (door) of your library.-Mary Ann Carcich, Mattituck-Laurel Public Library, Mattituck, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 Pick
Threatened with "permanent lifelong detention" by his teacher, Miss Bugscuffle, for being tardy, a young alien (the aptly named Henry P. Baloney) invents a whopper of an excuse. Futuristic, computer-aided artwork and "extraterrestrial" words (plucked from foreign dictionaries) are used to enliven Henry's wild story: "I foiled their plan to disintegrate me by plugging their blassa with my zimulus." Glossary, er, "decoder" included on the last page.