Earth To Clunk

Earth To Clunk

5.0 1
by Pam Smallcomb, Joe Berger
     
 

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What do you send your alien pen pal Clunk to make it clear you do not want an alien pen pal? You send him your big sister. That'll teach Clunk to have a pen pal from Earth-or so our intrepid narrator thinks. But then Clunk sends him a Zoid, an exasperating Zoid that follows him everywhere. After swapping dirty socks, three Forps, some old lasagna, a weird

Overview

What do you send your alien pen pal Clunk to make it clear you do not want an alien pen pal? You send him your big sister. That'll teach Clunk to have a pen pal from Earth-or so our intrepid narrator thinks. But then Clunk sends him a Zoid, an exasperating Zoid that follows him everywhere. After swapping dirty socks, three Forps, some old lasagna, a weird glob, and a string of Christmas lights, our hero seems to be having . . . could it be . . . fun? But then: Clunk stops sending stuff. Oh no! Earth to Clunk . . .? Is he too busy being bossed around by our hero's big sister? Will her ever send another package again? Maybe-or maybe not. More hilarious surprises await!

Deadpan comedy, vibrant artwork (a bit Calvin & Hobbes, a bit Eloise), a warm friendship theme, and an extraordinary surprise ending will have kids laughing all the way back to the first page of this sweet-in-spite-of-itself story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The unnamed narrator's teacher has come up with an unusual writing assignment: send a letter and "something from Earth" to an alien pen pal named Clunk. With a turn of the page, however, readers will realize that they're not dealing with a story that's entirely earthbound. The boy sends Clunk his big sister ("THAT will teach him to have a pen pal from Earth"), but Clunk refuses to take the bait, sending instead a cute, friendly, and floating puffball named Zoid who soon becomes the boy's avid companion. As the correspondence turns into a rousing game of "Can You Top This?" the narrator drops his defenses and his affection grows, culminating in an interplanetary sleepover. Smallcomb (I'm Not) and Berger (Hattie the Bad) have been better elsewhere: this story feels thrown together and skids to a halt. But they're too talented to leave readers bereft of comic pleasures. Smallcomb expertly channels a sarcastic kid who's secretly a softie, while Berger's expressive cartooning conveys the maniacal glee of a character who can't wait to one-up his frenemy. Ages 4–8. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—A school assignment pairs a disgruntled young boy with a pen pal from the planet Quazar. In an effort to discourage any communication, he proceeds to send Clunk every unwanted thing he can lay his hands on-his big sister, smelly socks, a scary picture, food gone bad, and electrical doodads that probably won't work off planet. For each package sent, the unseen Clunk sends back an equally alien and useless match, including a fuzzy, floating, animated ball called a Zoid that becomes the boy's ever-present companion. Once Mom realizes that her daughter is gone, she insists that the boy get her back, so he asks Clunk for her return. When no package arrives, he finds that he misses the interactions with his pen pal. One last package with his sister inside precipitates a final change of heart, and the boy invites his new friend for a successful sleepover. The sketchy, retro cartoonlike pen, pencil, and ink artwork can be overly busy but is still expressive, and playful enough for readers to enjoy the bad-mood boy without disliking him. Early elementary children will have an easier time understanding the concept of pen pals and unappealing assignments as well as how friendships can blossom in the most unexpected ways and places. This is science fiction with a homey touch for the youngest readers.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI
Baltimore's Child
“Tongue-in-cheek text from a Maryland author is a lively match with Joe Berger’s hysterical illustrations.”
From the Publisher
“Berger’s artwork , with its Southern California–bungalow cheeriness, has a wonderful way of . . . stirring the ingredients into broad, spirited humor. Rarely have school letter-writing exercises been so much fun.” — Kirkus

“Smallcomb expertly channels a sarcastic kid who’s secretly a softie.” — Publishers Weekly

“Friendships can blossom in the most unexpected ways and places. This is science fiction with a homey touch for the youngest readers.” — School Library Journal

“Tongue-in-cheek text from a Maryland author is a lively match with Joe Berger’s hysterical illustrations.” — Baltimore’s Child

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Instead of writing a letter to his pen pal Clunk on the planet Quazar as his teacher insists, our hero sends him his annoying big sister. "THAT will teach him," he tells us. In return, Clunk sends him a Zoid who follows him everywhere. Disgusted, he sends Clunk his dirty socks. Three Forps soon arrive. As the strange exchanges continue, our narrator's mother insists on the return of his sister. Time passes; he wonders. At last his sister is sent back, along with some not so bad "glob" from Quazar. Mollified, he decides to invite Clunk for a sleepover. Their triumph over his bossy sister is a delight. Mixed media: pencil, pen, and ink colored using Adobe Photoshop, create inviting, cartoon-y scenes of a fantasy treated as ordinary experience. The Zoid, a fuzzy, circular, blue, happy faced creature and the multi-striped Forps are non-threatening. Clunk is a jolly fellow as well. The front end pages set the stage, introducing the narrator and his mean sibling, while the final end pages add the happy creatures from space to the chagrinned sister. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews

The boy in Smallcomb's story starts as a put-upon grouchypants but slowly turns over the course of a pen-pal correspondence.

When his teacher tells him to write to his pen pal, he's all grumps: "I don't want a pen pal named Clunk from the planet Quazar." He completes the assignment by sending his bratty older sister along with the letter. Clunk sends back a Zoid. The boy fires back with his dirty socks (a welder's helmet and tongs are necessary to handle them, all part of Berger's bright, sunny interpretations of the story's brooding crankiness.) Clunk posts three Forps ("Forps smell like dog food"). Things escalate until the boy's mother demands his sister's return. Clunk takes a while to respond—the note has been sent in a box full of moldering lasagna—and the boy realizes how much he has enjoyed the skirmishing with Clunk. This tale scales no new heights of much anything, but there is no denying the pleasure of its dry, matter-of-fact delivery: "I got a package from Clunk today! Inside is a disgusting glob of something. And my big sister." And Berger's artwork, with its Southern California–bungalow cheeriness, has a wonderful way of turning the story's gravity in on itself, then stirring the ingredients into broad, spirited humor.

Rarely have school letter-writing exercises been so much fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803734395
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
05/12/2011
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.98(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.48(d)
Lexile:
AD480L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Pam Smallcomb lives in Germantown, Maryland.

Joe Berger lives in Bristol, England.

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Earth To Clunk 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
mkpetersonMP More than 1 year ago
This book is delightful and hilarious.  Deserves more accolades than it's getting.   I'm an aspiring children's book author who reads tons of kid books, and this is much better than most. Actually funny.