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Author: Alethea Eason

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Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: The Jones family of Prattsville, California, are different. They're even weirder than Willy and his family who celebrate Halloween for a month and sit in coffins. The Jones' are alien agents from the Home World planet, sent here to prepare for an invasion. Deborah Jones (real name Dbkrrrsh) always did what her parents asked. They had been given important roles, and their careers depended on making this a successful invasion. It wouldn't be so bad, except that her parents were pressuring her to eat her best friend! When she learned the invasion was about to start she was even more confused. She was getting very comfortable in her human life. Were her parents' careers that important? This middle grade novel offers a humorous look at the life of a preteen alien.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 10 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 10 to 13

Reading Level: 5.1

Age of Child: Read by student at Woodside Magnet High School for Arts and Communication (Newport News, VA)

Young Reader Reaction: I picked this book because it was about aliens. It was pretty cool, and I liked the descriptions because I could picture the aliens in my mind. It was easy to read, but fun. This book taught me about friendship and how it doesn't matter if you're an alien or not.

Adult Reader Reaction: It took a little bit to get into the story, in part, because it took some time to adjust to shifting between reading a great story about life as a preteen (they do feel and act like aliens) and the semi-gruesome elements that are part of having alien characters. The author has a great handle on the thinking, priorities, and choices of sixth-grade students.

Pros: Preteens will relate to the challenges in Deborah's life and laugh out loud at some of the events. It is very descriptive.

Cons: If you are truly turned off by cannibalism, you may not want to read this book. It is minimized and part of the plot device, but there are some descriptive passages that you may find unsettling.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is very worthwhile read and a fun book that kids and parents can enjoy. It isn't easy finding books for middle-grade kids that offer substance but aren't "too mature." This one fits the bill.

If You Liked This Book, Try: Aliens for Breakfast by Jonathan Etra SEVEN WORDS FOR SAND   FIREGIRL   WITH LOVE FROM SPAIN, MELANIE MARTIN

Educational Themes: Although largely a recreational read, there are still themes that offer opportunities for learning. Willy, like Deborah, is a strong character that kids will relate to. He has low self-esteem and feels misunderstood, but that changes with friendship and encouragement. The author has done an excellent job building on the dilemmas kids face and the questions they usually raise as they move closer to their teenage years.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2008

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