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The True Meaning of Smekday

Overview

It all starts with a school essay.

When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin: when her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens -- called the Boov -- abducted her mother? Or when the Boov ...

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The True Meaning of Smekday

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Overview

It all starts with a school essay.

When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin: when her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens -- called the Boov -- abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

Fully illustrated with "photos," drawings, newspaper clippings, and comic sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Lisa Von Drasek
Parents want to know what I do as a librarian to get their kids to try something new. And the truth is—nothing. There is not much I can do, except wait along with them for The Book: a story so original, so absorbing and so laugh-out-loud funny that the minute I read the last page, I want to start at the beginning again. The True Meaning of Smekday is that book…This first novel by Adam Rex will captivate fans of the wordplay and characters in Terry Pratchett's Discworld and of the outrageously entertaining satire of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy…Although it's a book for children, adults will find this page turner, really a satire about the conquering of foreign cultures, entertaining as well. Its pacing and cadence make it a perfect story for reading aloud, and it's almost impossible to resist sharing great lines with people nearby.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Who knew the end of the world could be so hilarious? With a misfit cast of characters led by a precocious 11-year-old narrator named Gratuity "Tip" Tucci and a bumbling alien named J.Lo who has an appetite for dental floss and air fresheners, Rex's high-octane fantasy could fairly be called an apocalyptic comedy. After the Boov (technologically advanced aliens) conquer Earth (or Smekland, as they call it, after its discoverer), they decide that humans must live on preserves; all Americans must move to Florida. Tip, driving her mother's car with her cat Pig for a passenger, meets the unexpectedly helpful Boov J.Lo, who, she later discovers, has bungled a mission and is on the lam. Parallels between the Boov and European settlers and their treatment of Native Americans deepen the impact of the story, but the author goes well beyond delivering a single political message. Incorporating dozens of his weird and wonderful illustrations and fruitfully manipulating the narrative structure, Rex skewers any number of subjects, from Disney World to various fleeting fads. Some of the best jokes come from throwaways and from J.Lo's and Tip's attempts to understand each other (when Tip asks if his society has boys and girls, he says, "Of course. Do not to be ridicumulous," and calmly lists the "seven magnificent genders" of the Boov). Picture book aficionados will already know Rex from Frankenstein Makes a Sandwichand Pssst! (reviewed Sept. 10); now another audience can savor his wit. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)

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Children's Literature
Presented in the form of essays written for a time capsule contest, this novel unveils the story of Gratuity (Tip) Tucci, her friend J.Lo the alien Boov, her cat Pig, and their adventures as Tip tries to reunite with her mother after not one but two alien invasions of earth. Tip is a wonderful narrator, both warm and humorous, and J.Lo, the helpful Boov who befriends Tip on her trip to Florida, is a great cartoonist whose comic touches throughout the book add another dimension to the story of the Boov and their need to take over other planets (but in the most friendly way possible); however, when the Gorg, another alien nation are made aware of Earth by an inadvertent transmission from J.Lo, they invade Earth, and Tip and J.Lo find themselves on the road to Arizona--the “new” United States of America--where all of the human population is expected to go if they want to continue to live. Along the way, Tip and J.Lo meet an amazing cast of characters who ultimately help them as they create a resistance force to combat the Gorg (who are much meaner than the Boov). This story moves quickly and, as noted earlier, with great humor, not only in the verbal interactions of characters but also in the wonderful graphic sections found throughout the novel. The nods to Area 51 and Roswell, New Mexico are necessary and hilarious, and the Arizona piece of the story is well-researched. I highly recommend this book for readers looking for fun mixed in with their science fiction. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8 Where does one begin when asked to write a five-page essay on the meaning of Smekday? If you are 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci, you begin prior to the arrival of the aliens, before your mother started receiving cryptic messages through a mole in the back of her neck, and before all Americans are forced to move to reservations in Florida to make room for the influx of an alien race known as the Boov. In a rebellious snit, Tip decides to drive her mother's car to Florida, rather than take the Boov rocketpods, and finds herself caught up in a most outlandish road trip with her cat, Pig, and her very own renegade Boov, J.Lo, for company. First-time novelist Rex has written an imaginative, wacky, hilarious sci-fi story that will appeal to fans of Eoin Colfer and Jon Scieszka. Lively cartoon-paneled illustrations are interspersed throughout and add to the fun. This is a fast-paced adventure with a whip-smart protagonist, a lovable and resourceful extraterrestrial, and plenty of social commentary.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

Kirkus Reviews
Gratuity Tucci ("Tip" for short) has a problem. Aliens have invaded Earth, stolen her mother, and now she and the rest of humanity are being shunted onto small reservations while the invaders (the Boov) take over the rest of the planet. In avoiding this plan, via her family car, Tip runs across J.Lo, a renegade Boov with problems of his own. Together, girl and alien attempt to locate Tip's mother only to discover that an even greater alien threat is imminent. It's up to the two heroes to defeat the invaders, Boov and otherwise, and save the day. The humor in this story is undeniably unique, containing a skewed worldview that children will certainly enjoy. Yet while the first half of the book is an entirely funny road trip of the Kerouac-meets-E.T. variety, the second half slows down considerably. Rex has such a nice grasp of small tender moments amidst a world gone haywire, it's a pity the book wasn't pared down significantly. Inspired but problematic. (Fiction. 11-15)
From the Publisher
Who knew the end of the world could be so hilarious? With a misfit cast of characters led by a precocious 11-year-old narrator named Gratuity "Tip" Tucci and a bumbling alien named J.Lo who has an appetite for dental floss and air fresheners, Rex's high-octane fantasy could fairly be called an apocalyptic comedy. After the Boov (technologically advanced aliens) conquer Earth (or Smekland, as they call it, after its discoverer), they decide that humans must live on preserves; all Americans must move to Florida. Tip, driving her mother's car with her cat Pig for a passenger, meets the unexpectedly helpful Boov J.Lo, who, she later discovers, has bungled a mission and is on the lam. Parallels between the Boov and European settlers and their treatment of Native Americans deepen the impact of the story, but the author goes well beyond delivering a single political message. Incorporating dozens of his weird and wonderful illustrations and fruitfully manipulating the narrative structure, Rex skewers any number of subjects, from Disney World to various fleeting fads. Some of the best jokes come from throwaways and from J.Lo's and Tip's attempts to understand each other (when Tip asks if his society has boys and girls, he says, "Of course. Do not to be ridicumulous," and calmly lists the "seven magnificent genders" of the Boov). Picture book aficionados will already know Rex from Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Pssst! (reviewed Sept. 10); now another audience can savor his wit. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)—PW
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781484729465
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 2/10/2015
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 855,906
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Adam Rex is the New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich. His other books include Pssst!, Moonday, The True Meaning of Smekday, Fat Vampire, and Cold Cereal. He also illustrated the Brixton Brothers series, Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem, and Chloe and the Lion, all by Mac Barnett and Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit him at adamrex.com or follow him on Twitter @MrAdamRex.
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