When an Alien Meets a Swamp Monster

When an Alien Meets a Swamp Monster

by Cornelius Van Wright
     
 

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Could two little boys who scare each other silly ever become friends?

When Alik and Boi accidentally bump into each other at the pond, they aren’t exactly thrilled. In fact, they’re terrified! Boi thinks Alik is a swamp monster, and Alik thinks Boi is a space alien. Both run home in a panic to share their news, but their families don’t believe

Overview

Could two little boys who scare each other silly ever become friends?

When Alik and Boi accidentally bump into each other at the pond, they aren’t exactly thrilled. In fact, they’re terrified! Boi thinks Alik is a swamp monster, and Alik thinks Boi is a space alien. Both run home in a panic to share their news, but their families don’t believe them. If only Alik and Boi can drum up the courage to venture back outside, they just might cross paths again and realize how much they have in common.

With an encouraging message about second chances and looking past appearances, this delightfully absurd story about two very different-looking adventurers is full of laugh-out-loud, action-packed fun. It’s perfect for fans of funny books like Shark vs. Train and Children Make Terrible Pets.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/11/2013
Illustrator Van Wright (Nobody Asked the Pea) tries his hand as author in a story involving misunderstandings, overactive imaginations, and “verometric outerhull stabilizers.” With a goggled helmet and customized red scooter, J.T. Boi is ready to explore, but a crash landing puts him face to face with a bona fide swamp monster. The “monster” is equally horrified—he’s actually a gator named Alik. “Well, I was at the pond, reading my comics and sipping some fizzy pop,” Alik tells his brother, “when a giant spaceship landed and out came... an alien!” Nodding to the comic books that both J.T. and Alik love, Van Bright augments the story with occasional sequential panels and captions (“Then, suddenly—”). The storytelling itself is a bit jumbled, opening with long quotes from J.T. before settling into a more traditional narrative; the story hovers between picture book and comic, not entirely comfortably. But Van Wright’s pencil-and-watercolor artwork more than compensates, invigorating the story with action and comedy, from J.T. and Alik’s muddy first encounter (with an epic “Ahhhhhhhhh!”) to their eventual realization that they have much in common. Ages 3–5. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
* “A hilarious romp with easy, breezy language that captures the essence of little boys (or little alligators). . . . Large-scale watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are appropriately goofy and perfectly depict the high-speed action and the rampant emotions of the characters. Small details add to the fun. . . . Total laugh-out-loud joy.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“A story involving misunderstandings, overactive imaginations, and ‘verometric outerhull stabilizers.’ . . . Van Wright’s pencil-and-watercolor artwork [invigorates] the story with action and comedy, from J.T. and Alik’s muddy first encounter to their eventual realization that they have much in common.” — Publishers Weekly

“Watercolor and pencil illustrations in a cartoon style match the pair’s preferred reading material. . . . The simple, direct narrative will appeal to reluctant readers.” — School Library Journal

School Library Journal
02/01/2014
K-Gr 3—When J. T. Boi rides his scooter into a pond, Alik the alligator mistakes the boy-who is wearing a muddy helmet and goggles-for an alien. Boi confuses the muddy Alik for a swamp monster. Each runs home to tell his sibling. The alligator's brother calms him with some tea, so Alik returns to the swamp to read his book. There, he finds something shiny: Boi's scooter. Meanwhile, the kid's older sister listens impassively to his story. Seeking proof of the swamp monster's existence, Boi returns to the pond with a camera and finds only a comic book. The two characters bump into each other and jubilantly discover their common interests. Watercolor and pencil illustrations in a cartoon style match the pair's preferred reading material. Although the page layout, with scattered text and images, can be cluttered, the simple, direct narrative will appeal to reluctant readers. While not essential for most libraries, this title may find an audience with visual learners, comic book fans, and children who enjoy absurd tales with colorful illustrations.—Julie R. Ranelli, Queen Anne's County Free Library, Stevensville, MD
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-11
First impressions based on wild speculation and leaps of imagination can be misleading, but fun and friendship can result. J.T. Boi sets out on an adventure wearing a helmet and goggles and riding his scooter, which is equipped with "[v]erometric outerhull stabilizers." He speeds down the hill and lands in a muddy swamp, where he comes face to face with a terrifying monster. Alik is really an alligator who was reading his comic book, Attack of the Aliens, when he was interrupted and frightened out of his wits by what looked to be the very alien he was reading about. They scream and run home in panic. They are met with utter disbelief by their respective siblings, so they head back to the swamp, where they meet in an outcome that is "[t]oo totally AWESOME!" Van Wright turns the whole silly affair into a hilarious romp with easy, breezy language that captures the essence of little boys (or little alligators). The type's font is varied to reflect the levels of hysteria and panic, and it is set in the delightfully named "Delicious and Dynamo." Large-scale watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are appropriately goofy and perfectly depict the high-speed action and the rampant emotions of the characters. Small details add to the fun as young readers notice Boi's low-slung shorts, Alik's brother's science book by Dr. Spekulate and Boi's sister's popped bubble gum. Total laugh-out-loud joy. (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399256233
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/20/2014
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD480L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Cornelius Van Wright (www.corneliusvanwright.com) has illustrated numerous picture books, including several he co-illustrated with his wife, Ying Hwa-Hu, including Princess Grace (by Mary Hoffman), Sam and the Lucky Money (by Karen Chinn), and Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree (by William Miller). His work has appeared on Reading Rainbow and Storytime and has been exhibited with the Society of Illustrators. He lives in New York City.

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