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The Boy Who Cried Alien

The Boy Who Cried Alien

by Marilyn Singer, Brian Biggs (Illustrator)

This is The Boy Who Cried Wolf like you've never seen it before: with tentacles, wigs, and a secret code language that kids can decipher. Larry the Liar must help these friendly extra-terrestrials refuel their ship so they can get back home. But will the townspeople believe his intergalactic tale of glory?

This hilarious reimagining uses meticulously composed


This is The Boy Who Cried Wolf like you've never seen it before: with tentacles, wigs, and a secret code language that kids can decipher. Larry the Liar must help these friendly extra-terrestrials refuel their ship so they can get back home. But will the townspeople believe his intergalactic tale of glory?

This hilarious reimagining uses meticulously composed verse, alternating points of view, and comic book elements to give the story loads of color, humor and visual interest. Veteran children's book author Marilyn Singer teams up with Brian Biggs, the illustrator of Shredder Man, Beastly Rhymes, Brownie and Pearl, and Everything Goes: On Land to create the best interstellar tall tale ever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this amusing but overwrought tale with an extraterrestrial twist, Larry the Liar has his work cut out for him when he calls attention to an alien ship’s splash landing in Malarkey Lake. Who will believe the rantings of the kid who told his friends “that Dad’s a secret agent guy/ out searching for the lost world of Atlantis./ That mom was bitten by a bat and thinks she’ll fly./ Her favorite foods are moth and praying mantis”? Readers are in on the truth from the start, privy to every move of the green, tentacled aliens Carlig and Dreab (English translation: Garlic and Bread). Biggs’s (Everything Goes: On Land) thickly outlined mixed-media art pops with vibrant color, the drama unfolding in a series of comic book–like panels. But while there’s no denying the skill involved in the construction of Singer’s (Mirror, Mirror) outer-limits verse, much of it—especially the alien-speak—is not well suited for reading aloud, and the sheer quantity of text may have readers (even alien-lovers) losing interest. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Larry the Liar has no trouble living up to his name. The townspeople nearby have learned not to believe anything he tells them. But one day the truth is stranger than any story Larry could make up; an alien spaceship has landed in Malarkey Lake! But can he convince everyone of what has happened? The aliens wander into town corroborating Larry's story and he finds an ingenious way to repair their spaceship and send them home. In the end Larry is crowned a hero. This book has a lot going on. There is a simple running narration at the top of the pages while the spreads are filled with rhyming text in various dialogue bubbles including decodable alien speech (there is an author's note with translation tips at the back of the book). The graphic illustrations pay subtle homage to Lichtenstein and classic comic books with visible dots and slightly misaligned coloring, the aged greens, blues and oranges adding to the classic feel. It is a little long and wordy and the rhymes sometimes feel forced but it is also silly and ridiculous enough to incite giggles among slightly older readers. It would be great paired with Bob Hartman's The Wolf Who Cried Boy or any traditional telling and fits into the too-small niche of sci-fi for younger readers. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction as seen in this picture-book redemption of the fabled boy who cried wolf. Given the retro cartoon illustrations packed with energy and action, children can approach the text in two ways: they can choose the "silent-movie mode" and read only the subtitles in the ornate boxes that span the tops of the pages, or they can turn on the sound, so to speak, and read the rhyming speech bubbles. Some are in alien-speak, a foreign tongue in which the first and last letters of a word are transposed. (Translations are in the back matter.) Aliens Carlig and Dreab (you do the translating) need fuel for their rocket ship, which crash-lands in Malarkey Lake, and since cows are found on their planet, Yeah, as well, they know that belching bovines are a fine source of gas. Larry the Liar, first rebuked by his townspeople, helps the aliens get home (they were en route to Hollywood for an audition). He becomes a hero and sets up his own school of fibbing. "Larry you were underrated/just 'cause you prevaricated./Now you have the admiration/of Malarkey Lake's whole population." As you see, this is a story chock-full of humor and silliness. For reluctant readers, suggest the silent-movie mode. For a second read, they can dive into the speech bubbles and alien language. Some readers will even create their own rhyming quatrains in alien-speak.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
A prairie fire of wordplay engulfs Singer's otherwise silly tale of visiting aliens. Young Larry is a known liar, so no one believes him when he says an alien spaceship has landed in a nearby lake. "How corny, quaint, and uninspired. / I can't be fooled by stuff that tired," says someone who looks like he might be the mayor. And so, let the wordplay begin. Singer's poetic architecture is highly variable--from long lines (which can be a bit of a slog) to short lines where words fly like popcorn (" ‘Nonsense-- / They're jokesters, / hoaxsters. / Those fakes cannot / harm me…' / ‘Holy pastrami-- / call out the army!' ") to unsyncopated stutter steps. Even the aliens get in on the rhyming, their cockamamie verbiage--"Lel'w peek ruo eyes npeo / dna esu ruo tiws"--turning out in the end to be anagrammed English. The story, which involves Larry getting to know the aliens and learning that their planet admires the art of quality fibbing, plays second fiddle to the narrative pyrotechnics, and the words, in turn, tend to outshine Biggs' artwork. While the characters have their measure of personality, mostly via gaping mouths, flapping tongues and beady eyes, the colors are fairly anemic, making the story even less substantial. Inventive, musical rhyming pulls this effort, while the story and illustrations watch from the sidelines. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.34(w) x 11.58(h) x 0.36(d)
AD490L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Marilyn Singer (www.marilynsinger.net) is the author of more than eighty books for children and young adults, including I'm Your Bus, City Lullaby, Mirror, Mirror, and Monster Museum. She lives with her husband and a variety of creatures in Brooklyn, NY, and Washington, CT.

Brian Biggs (www.mrbiggs.com) is the illustrator of the Brownie and Pearl series by Cynthia Rylant, One Beastly Beast by Garth Nix, the Goofball Malone detective series by Stephen Malone, and several other children's books. He won a Christopher Award for his work on the Shredderman series by Wendelin Van Draanen. He currently lives and rides bikes in Philadelphia, PA with his two kids.

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