Interplanetary Penpals: Earth to Clunk by Pam Smallcomb
TODAY MR. ZOOKIAN SAID I HAVE TO WRITE MY PEN PAL.
"HIS NAME IS CLUNK. HE LIVES ON THE PLANET QUAZAR," SAID MR. ZOOKIAN
I DON'T WANT A PEN PAL NAMED CLUNK FROM THE PLANET QUAZAR. I'M NOT WRITING A LETTER.
I'M SENDING CLUNK MY BIG SISTER. THAT WILL TEACH HIM.
Our unwilling little correspondent packs up his bossy sister, pictured yelling angrily through the box, and ships her off to Clunk, feeling sure that she will disabuse Clunk of any interest in terrestrial life posthaste.
Apparently not. By return mail comes Clunk's offering, an amorphous Quazarian named Zoid, who resembles a fuzzy smiley face and who annoyingly follows our boy everywhere he goes. Our narrator decides to reciprocate with a packet of overripe lasagna from the back of the fridge. But back comes a thank-you note and another of Clunk's offerings--a trio of tubular Forps. Hunh! Back to Quazar goes a package of super smelly socks. And the potlatch is on!
Gradually, though, our boy becomes a bit fond of Zoid and even the Forps, and when the shipments from Quazar suddenly cease, he begins to feel a bit lonely and deserted by a friend he didn't even realize was a friend.
NOPE. NADA. ZIP.
Then at last he gets a box from what he is coming to think of as his friend.
INSIDE IS A DISGUSTING BLOB OF SOMETHING.
AND MY BIG SISTER. "YOU ARE SO DEAD!" SHE SAYS.
Obviously our boy and Clunk have one thing in common--their aversion to his big sister. Soon our narrator invites Clunk for a sleepover, and an intergalactic friendship is bonded when they build a fort in the basement and repel an invasion from a very grouchy big sister.
Pam Smallcomb's latest Earth to Clunk (Dial, 2011) is a genuinely funny fantasy tale of an unlikely friendship, illustrated wryly by English artist Joe Becker in a pleasant retro style which conjures up both Norman Bridwell's simplistic cartoon tales and Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes comics. Pair this one with Claire Freedman's Aliens Love Underpants and/or James Marshall's classic tale Space Case (Puffin Pied Piper) for some storytime fun that's, well, out of this world!