This was my family's favorite audio book from last summer, and I'm ashamed that it's taken me until now to write about it! I had heard good things about this book and love Adam Rex's sense of humor (Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is one of my favorite poetry collections and never fails to make me giggle - particularly the ones about the Phantom of the Opera, who can't compose because he has "It's a Small World" stuck in his head). When I learned that The True Meaning of Smekday had won the ALA's Odyssey Award (for excellence in audio book production), I checked it out from our library's collection. After about an hour or two of listening to it, I knew my children would love it, so I started all over again and listened with them. And I was right - they adored it.
I hesitate to say too much about this delightful novel. It is set in the near future and is told from the point of view of young Gratuitiy Tucci, as an entry in an essay contest in which school children are asked to write about "The True Meaning of Smekday," i.e. the day in which the alien Boov invaded the earth, which, coincidentally, happened on Christmas Day. Gratuity tells her story with humor and honesty, and we learn about the day her mother was abducted by aliens and go on an unforgettable road trip with Gratuity and an alien Boov named J. Lo. During their cross-country trek in Slushious, a floating car, Gratuity learns things from J. Lo that no other humans understand, which puts her in a unique position when the invasion shifts into a new and alarming situation. Unfortunately none of the adults think that a young girl could possibly have anything useful to contribute, so Gratuity and J. Lo have some quick thinking to do.
I love, love, loved this book. It is funny and moving, exciting and thoughtful. The audio production is a delight - narrator Bahni Turpin does an excellent job with voices and accents, particularly the aliens, and really brings the story to a whole new level. There are a few small sections of the story that are written (by J. Lo) in comic book format, and while they are described perfectly in the audio version, I of course had to see the pictures. So I checked the hard copy out from the library so we could read those sections ourselves. It would be nice if audio books contained pdf files of images and such so readers could see them, or even a link to the publisher's website with a code to access them, or something like that. This book should be appealing to male and female readers, and would make an excellent book club read - there are lots of interesting ideas and concepts here, and my kids and I found a whole lot to talk about as we listened together.
At any rate, I highly recommend this book!
Also by Adam Rex: Pssst!
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex; narrated by Bahni Turpin (Listening Library, 2010)