Thursday, November 12, 2015

Show Me The Way To Go Home! I'm An Alien (And I Want to Go Home) by Jo Franklin

My incredibly annoying older sister, Jessie, has a Random Mood Generator. Her favorite tracks are Psycho, Bossy, and Mega Mean.

Today I was still eating when Jessie came in to annoy me. "What is it with you and those freaky long legs, Beanpole?" Jessie said, waving her hair straightener in my face.

"Wanna know the family secret?" she said. "The one about you?

You aren't
really my brother," she growled.

"You're an
alien, abandoned on Earth by your alien parents. Why don't you take your alien legs and go back where you came from?"

Daniel Kendal, a.k.a., Bean for Beanpole, is the world's tallest kid, way taller than even his average-sized dad, and the more he thinks about it, the more he begins to believe Jessie is right. Everyone else in his family is average-sized and has blue eyes and blond hair, except his dad, who has blue eyes and used to have blond hair--back when he had hair.

So when Bean finds no baby pictures of himself in the family album, he gets worried. And then he finds a clipping in the album about a meteor strike on the day he was born. That must have been the spaceship he came to earth on.

Bean's brainy friend Gordon the Geek, who wears his laptop strapped in front of him at all times, does a quick search and announces that he knows exactly where Bean must have come from.

"Kepler 22b," he said. "Six Hundred light years away. Average surface temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit."

That's it. Bean decides he has to return to his home planet, Kepler 22b. His other friend, Eddie the potato chip king, is on it right away. Eddie and the Geek do their research and come up with a MISSION STATEMENT.

1. Test cryogenic survival, a.k.a. being frozen alive.
2. Find a country with plans to relocate to Kepler 22b.
3. Raise cash for airfare to foreign country.
4. Get fit. Astronauts have to be in peak physical condition.
5. Pack stuff to take to new planet.
6. Take things to trade with Kepler kids to make friends

Amazingly, Bean survives the cryogenic survival trial, submerged in the bathtub in Eddie's contribution, eight supersize bags of ice, and the Geek's thermos of dry ice, but it's a near thing for his extremities.

Then Eddie has an better plan. Phone home like ET and ask the Keplerites to come and pick him up. Gordon the Geek has the technology. He'll connect his laptop to the satellite dish atop Bean's house and send a message though the satellite to Keppler 22b. Then all Bean has to do is wait for his real parents to pick him up. Perfect. Right?

But like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Bean finds out that there's really no place like home, in Jo Franklin's forthcoming I'm an Alien and I Want to Go Home (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). Author Jo Franklin's wry and witty writing makes this first novel a laugh-a-minute easy read for upper elementary kids in which Bean realizes that he may have more in common with his family than he ever knew. Illustrator Marty Kelley adds inspired comic drawings which catch Franklin's funny characters in just the right vignettes. For any kid who has ever felt like an alien in his or her own family, this one will definitely phone home.

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