The True Meaning of Smekday
As a reader, there's a certain type of book I dream about: one that somehow manages to be smart and funny and meaningful. Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday is -- wonder of wonders! -- just such a book. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of it, however, because it also happens to be a kids' book. But it's one that can be appreciated equally by adults, who are just as likely to enjoy the novel's fantastic narrative voice and sharp sense of humor, and may get even more out of Smekday's central metaphor. The story follows precocious 12-year-old Tip after aliens land on Earth and claim it for their own. The Boov then force the human population to relocate -- in the case of the residents of the U.S., first to Florida, then to Arizona. (Sound familiar?) Tip, however, is separated from her mother at the beginning of the invasion, and so must travel on her own, encountering on her way one of the aliens who, in fantastic Ford Prefect tradition, has christened himself with the human name of J.Lo. Further -- utterly delightful -- shenanigans ensue. Both Tip's narration and the characters' dialogue are a constant source of amusement and sly cleverness, and Tip and J.Lo's blossoming friendship made me happy in the way that only a truly epic literary friendship can. I never wanted this book to end. Sadly, it had to, so I shall have to console myself by recommending it to as many people as I can, adults and children -- and even Boov -- alike. -- Anna Kaufman
It all starts with a school essay.
When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she's not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens-called Boov-abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?
In any case, Gratuity's story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity's mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.
Fully illustrated with "photos," drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel from best-selling author Adam Rex.
About the Author
Adam Rex is the New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich. His other books include Pssst!, Moonday, The True Meaning of Smekday, Fat Vampire, and Cold Cereal. He also illustrated the Brixton Brothers series, Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem, and Chloe and the Lion, all by Mac Barnett and Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit him at adamrex.com or follow him on Twitter @MrAdamRex.
Praise for The True Meaning of Smekday…
Who knew the end of the world could be so hilarious? With a misfit cast of characters led by a precocious 11-year-old narrator named Gratuity "Tip" Tucci and a bumbling alien named J.Lo who has an appetite for dental floss and air fresheners, Rex's high-octane fantasy could fairly be called an apocalyptic comedy. After the Boov (technologically advanced aliens) conquer Earth (or Smekland, as they call it, after its discoverer), they decide that humans must live on preserves; all Americans must move to Florida. Tip, driving her mother's car with her cat Pig for a passenger, meets the unexpectedly helpful Boov J.Lo, who, she later discovers, has bungled a mission and is on the lam. Parallels between the Boov and European settlers and their treatment of Native Americans deepen the impact of the story, but the author goes well beyond delivering a single political message. Incorporating dozens of his weird and wonderful illustrations and fruitfully manipulating the narrative structure, Rex skewers any number of subjects, from Disney World to various fleeting fads. Some of the best jokes come from throwaways and from J.Lo's and Tip's attempts to understand each other (when Tip asks if his society has boys and girls, he says, "Of course. Do not to be ridicumulous," and calmly lists the "seven magnificent genders" of the Boov). Picture book aficionados will already know Rex from Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Pssst! (reviewed Sept. 10); now another audience can savor his wit. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)—PW