Dethbert Jones is your average ten-year-old – only he lives on the planet Crank with his pet chicken-snail, Precious, and his robot best friend Andi Social. When he and Andi join the Space Cadets, a Scouts-like organization, they are totally smooshed at the prospect of going to Space Camp where they’ll learn to pilot a real shuttlecraft and disintegrate weapons of mass destruction. Blamtastic! To earn his cosmic correspondent badge, Dethbert begins writing to an earthling – and boy, does he have a lot to write about! Between questions about Earth food, culture, and activities, Dethbert recounts his experiences attempting to avoid his horrible little sister, impress his animal-obsessed crush, and fly a space shuttle. Misadventures – from hairy ankles to crash landings – abound, but Dethbert’s curiosity and enthusiasm can’t be crushed, not by anything in this galaxy, anyway!
About the Author
Pen Avey writes and illustrates for children from her home in Norfolk, UK. She is quite a nosy person, but uses the cover story 'RESEARCH' to hide this fact. When not being unduly curious about the affairs of others, Pen enjoys hanging out with her family and playing with her pet cats, Crumble and Mortimer.
Read an Excerpt
My name is Dethbert Jones and I'm 10.63 years old. I live on a planet called Crank that's in a galaxy nine million light years away from the blue planet you call "Earth," and I really need your help!
I've just joined a club called Space Cadets, which is a bit like your "Scouts," but instead of learning to tie knots and start campfires, we're taught to fly spacecraft, and disintegrate weapons of mass destruction.
Something Space Cadets has in common with Scouts is we can earn badges. One's called "Cosmic Correspondent." To get it, we have to find a pen pal from another planet. I think the idea of writing to an alien sounds cool, so I had a look on "The Everything" (a bit like your "The Internet" but 100 billion times bigger), which told me our species are very alike. I ran a personality advisor application, and it turns out we're a perfect match.
For example, I see from your file that you enjoy cooking. I also love baking tasty treats and made a scrummy snapple pie yesterday. I never got to taste it though, as while it was cooling, my horrible little sister Shriekfest jabbed her pudgy fingers into the crust. Mum tried to convince me it would still be okay to eat, but I've seen where she puts those mucky little digits. Of course Shriekfest wailed like a siren when she was caught, and Mum soon forgave her (far too quickly in my opinion).
I notice you also have a sister, though she's older than you. I wish I were the youngest so I could get away with stuff instead of always having to set a "good example."
Write back and tell me the sort of things you do to upset your older sister. It may give me the heads up on what to expect.
You're probably wondering how we're going to exchange letters? Don't panic — I've got that part covered. My dad's a scientist/inventor, and one of his work friends came up with something called "The Mailington 220," which is a universal postal system I've set to directly link us up. Dad says it breaks down particles into anti-matter and sends them to the destination of your choice. On arrival, the item you've sent instantly reforms into its original shape.
Note: Never send any living thing using this method. The inventor, Dr Brainfreeze Macmillan, thought he might save himself a bundle on airfare and tried to post himself to his aunt's house on the other side of Crank for a cheap holiday. Unfortunately, when he reformed one of his arms was firmly attached to his forehead — not a good look (although handy for reaching things off high shelves I'd imagine).
Generally it's completely safe though — the radiation you'll absorb from opening my letters should only make a few of your teeth fall out.
Haha, joke! That hardly ever happens.
Anyway, I hope you'll agree to be my pen pal. If you want to write back to me, just use one of the special packets I've enclosed and press the green button.
I've got to sign off now as my best friend Andi Social is dropping round so we can do our quantum physics homework together. I'm sure he copies a lot of the answers off me, but he's a robot and has a calculation chip installed, which comes in handy.
I hate quantum physics, don't you?
Your new friend (potentially),
P.S. Please accept this gift of a popular Crank sweet called HOLOMUNCH.CHAPTER 2
Dethbert here. I was very excited to get your letter and laughed when I read that at first you'd thought my letter was your sister playing a prank. I'm glad you enjoyed the Holomunch, though I was surprised to hear that you don't have these flavours on Earth (Healthy Burp's my favourite — it's a great ice-breaker at parties).
Thanks for your gift of "bubble gum" — I'll admit at first I didn't follow your instructions properly and swallowed half the packet. Next morning I parpled and blew a bubble in my underpants.
My mum despairs and says the stain may never come out.
Sadly, I couldn't share the rest of the packet with Andi, as robots don't produce the saliva needed to activate the gum. He wanted to experience it in some way though, so I blew a bubble near him and it popped on one of his hearing holes.
His dad-bot also despairs and says the stain may never come out.
I'm surprised parents on Earth allow this sweet!
Thanks also for the information about tricks you've played on your big sister in the past. I'll certainly check my shoes for worms from now on.
In your letter you wanted to know more about my planet and its people. Crank is a lot like Earth, if you imagine what Earth will be like thousands of years in the future. Our species are quite similar too — you Earthlings are kind of like us Crankians, except we're a bit more evolved.
Don't take this the wrong way, as we're far from perfect and are still trying to repair our planet from centuries of warfare and destruction.
In the past, wars used to start for ridiculous reasons like, "He looks a slightly different shade of purple than me," or, "They built their patio waaay too close to my garden fence."
These days we prefer to settle our arguments politely — by challenging each other to games like Squabble (in which you spell out words that no one's ever heard of in the hope that they actually exist).
Other planets in our galaxy are not quite so friendly, so here on Crank we run a peacekeeping force called the "Elite Space Rangers," which steps in to sort things out when our neighbouring planets aren't behaving themselves. I'm in the Pudding Squadron of Space Cadets, and if the Elite Space Rangers ever get called out on a mission, we'll go along too and provide delicious sweet treats for the troops.
Talking about Space Cadets, I had my first visit there yesterday and met my squadron leader, Sergeant Megatron 5000. He's a rather scary looking robot, but shares my passion for baking so can't be all bad.
I was really hoping to find out more about Space Camp (an annual trip to outer space and one of the main things that attracted me to Space Cadets in the first place), but all Sergeant Megatron 5000 wanted to talk about was crustard (a sweet, yellow, gloopy sauce). He asked me to whip up a bowl of it so he could check out my cooking skills.
I was a bit nervous and accidentally made the crustard using some chickensnail eggs I'd brought along to show the other cadets. When he tried it, he went a bit green (no mean feat for a robot) and rushed to the bathroom, where he spent the rest of the session cleaning out his exit ports.
I haven't told you about my pet chickensnail yet, have I? For months I'd been nagging my parents about getting a pet. I had my heart set on a monster rat, but recently Dad conducted a genetic experiment that resulted in a strange creature that was 50% chicken and 50% snail.
The idea behind it was a chicken with her own hen house — good idea, right? Except when she lays eggs she promptly crushes most of them with her giant slimy foot, which is a bit of a drawback.
I persuaded Dad to let me keep her, but the snail trails/crushed eggs all over the house drove Mum up the wall, so now Precious (that's her name) lives in our garden and spends most of her time hanging out in a giant upturned flower pot.
Do you have any pets? Please let me know in your next letter.
Your friend, Dethbert Jones.CHAPTER 3
Thanks for your letter, but I must admit I'm a bit confused. You have cats as pets on Earth? One of the planets in our galaxy is called Tiddles, and is entirely populated by cats. Many of them have even settled on Crank — in fact my neighbour, Miss Suki, is a cat. She owns a kitten toyshop in town that sells things like clockwork mice and balls with bells in them. I showed her the picture you sent of your pet cat Mr. Leo licking his bottom. She covered her eyes and said, "Washing in public? Has he no shame?!"
Talking of toys, I recently saved up enough pocket money to buy the latest Z-box game. It's called Mortal Wombat and is totally blamtastic!
I asked Andi round so we could spend the weekend having a Mortal Wombat marathon, but we'd only been playing 3.37 hours when Dad said our eyes would turn square and forced us out of the house to get some fresh air. I pointed out that Andi's eyes are square anyway, but Dad just said, "See?" like that was all the proof he needed.
We went to the park for a while, but to be honest I think fresh air is slightly overrated, and Andi — being a robot — doesn't even breathe.
After a while we got bored and decided to try and sneak back in to continue gaming, but guess who we caught in the lounge playing Mortal Wombat? Dad at least had the decency to look embarrassed and admit it's a totally addictive game.
We decided to play tournaments together, but just then Mum and Shriekfest came back from the shops. Shriekfest took one look at us having fun without her and decided to have a thermonuclear meltdown because her stupid baby show was about to come on the telly box. Her "piercing wail" tactic worked as it always does, and the three of us were forced out of the room.
Dad had kind of bonded with us though (such is the power of the Wombat) and asked if we wanted to come and hang out in his lab for a while. I leapt at the chance — I love Dad's laboratory — but Andi needed persuading. He's probably still nervous, as last time we went up there Dad upgraded Andi's memory chip, and for a while he was convinced that he'd been raised in the forest by a pack of wild gnomes.
Dad showed us an invention he's working on — a powder you put into your sloshing machine, which automatically sorts out socks into pairs. I think it was Mum's idea as she's always complaining that the sock monster keeps eating random socks and leaving odd ones.
I said that if it was successful I'd talk to Sergeant Megatron 5000 about buying some powder for the Space Cadets' laundry when we go to Space Camp. Andi pointed out everyone would be wearing the same socks since they're part of the uniform. Sometimes Andi can be really annoying!
Do you have an annoying best friend? Let me know in your next letter.
Your friend, Dethbert Jones.CHAPTER 4
Thank you for your letter and the slice of birthday cake you sent to me. It was very delicious. I shared it with Andi, and he said: "DOES NOT COMPUTE," which I guess means he liked it, too. Your Earth custom of setting fire to birthday cakes is very strange, I must say.
I tried it with a glueberry muffin, but it activated our smoke alarm and tasted a bit singed.
Anyway, happy belated birthday.
Here on Crank we send our friends and relations birthday poems, so here's one I wrote for you:
"So, you're 12 years old. Not quite a child any more. Not quite a teenager either. Kind of ... nothing."
It was nice of your best friend to give you a "football" as a gift. Here on Crank we have oval or round shaped balls. They are easier to handle than ones shaped like feet, surely?
In other news, Andi and I were walking to school yesterday and were shocked to see the new crossing guard — none other than Sergeant Megatron 5000 from Space Cadets! I don't think he'll last very long in his new job though.
Anyway, Sergeant Megatron 5000 asked Andi if he'd be interested in joining Space Cadets too, as there is an opening that was made for him, apparently. To be honest, I was a bit miffed about this because:
a) I've been bragging to my school friends about how hard it is to get into Space Cadets, and now it seems like they're asking anyone to join.
b) I'd painted Sergeant Megatron 5000 as a mean and ruthless leader, which doesn't really fit well with him helping little kids cross the road while holding up a giant lollipop.
The rest of the day was a total nightmare. I mean, Andi is my bestie, but he does get on my nerves. He spent the whole of munch-time in loudspeaker mode boasting about how he'd been asked to join the Space Cadets "BY SPECIAL INVITATION."
He said he'd call round for me later that day so we could go to the meeting together, but as the time drew near, I was still in a huff, so I left five minutes before he was due to get to my house.
I felt a bit bad when he turned up really late at Space Cadets HQ though — we were singing the closing anthem when he eventually arrived, glowing red hot from racing all the way there:
"Space Cadets are kind and true, Friends to others through and through, Loyal to all our comrades we Spread good across the galaxy."
Singing those words and looking at Andi made me glow red hot too ... with shame. So as soon as possible I rushed over to say sorry for not waiting. I'll admit that I told a tiny fib and said I'd forgotten he was coming. Luckily, he never made me take his onboard lie detector test, like he had when I was nine and said our teacher Miss Battlefield had asked me to marry her. (An embarrassing phase — enough said.)
I felt even worse when Sergeant Megatron 5000 revealed to Andi that the opening at Space Cadets was for a
Luckily Andi seemed thrilled at the prospect of dishing out cheesy puffs to the rest of the cadets and wore his NO CHANGE GIVEN sticker like a badge of honour.
Fate, however, has found its own way of punishing me, and I've been given the task of baking ninety-six puffle-sprout flapjacks to raise funds.
On a positive note, the money is going towards Space Camp this summer, and I'm totally smooshed about going to that, as it will be my first ever trip to outer space!
Let me know if you are smooshed about anything when you write next.
Your friend, Dethbert JonesCHAPTER 5
Thank you for your letter and the picture of you on a "roller coaster." What a strange idea: a vehicle that takes you along a bumpy track and ends up back where you started.
I couldn't really see the point, but when I talked to my dad about it he explained that:
No, I didn't understand what he was on about either, but then he said: "It feels smooshy," and I totally get that. In fact I've been feeling extra smooshy myself lately because a new girl just moved into my street, and she is awesome times ten to the power of four!
Her name is Killian Brown, and her family recently arrived back here after living on a neighbouring planet called Mukon.
Mukon is way behind Crank on the evolutionary scale (even further behind than Earth), and its local people the Mukonoids are little more than savages.
Apparently Killian's dad was a missionary trying to convert them to Crankism, but he gave up on that ever happening when he had a dream that he was in a hot tub, then woke up to find he actually was in a hot tub (of soup) and was set to play the starring role in the Mukonoids' next meal, if you know what I mean.
So, the Mukonoids' loss is my gain as Killian has got to be the most fascinating person I've ever met.
3 Reasons why Killian is amazing:
1. She smells of rawberries.
2. She has the most bulbous head imaginable.
3. She is 1.09 years older than me, yet she actually SPOKE to me.
Andi is here, and he's just pointed out that what she said to me was:
"Stop following me around, freak."
I told Andi that it's extremely rude to read other people's private letters over their shoulder.
I'm sure he is just feeling left out though, and jealous that Killian and I have formed such a strong bond. He told me yesterday that he's going out with a fridge-freezer called Candy. I thought he'd made this up, but then he showed me the photo of her he had in his wallet. Sad to say it was obviously cut out from an old catalogue — I could even see part of the order number. When I mentioned this, he said it was her phone number. I didn't push things, as I quite like the idea of double dating at some point in the future.
In other news, I managed to sell all ninety-six of my puffle-sprout flapjacks. I say sold, but a more accurate description would be "gave away as a free gift." I've been charging kids at our school a dollop each to have a go at Andi's onboard games console at munch-time, which has been pre-loaded with — you've guessed it — Mortal Wombat. It was Andi's idea really (he does occasionally have fleeting sparks of genius) and we just gave the flapjacks away as freebies to paying customers. We had to use five of them to bribe Mr Selfish, our munch-time snoopervisor, though. Luckily the only thing he likes more than getting kids into trouble is sprouts. That afternoon in assembly no one could hear our headmaster rambling on about school traditions over ninety-plus musical bottom parples. It was highly amusing — but it did whiff a bit!
What makes you laugh on Earth? Tell me in your next letter,
Your friend, Dethbert Jones.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Dear Earthling: Cosmic Correspondent"
Copyright © 2018 Pen Avey.
Excerpted by permission of Common Deer Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.