The True Meaning of Smekday

Rex, A. (2007) The True Meaning of Smekday. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children




Aliens invade planet.  Bad stuff happens.  Hilarity ensues.


Eleven year old Gratuity Tucci is living in Pennyslvania with her mom and her cat, Pig, when the alien Boov invade Earth (hereafter known as Smekland, in honor of the honorable Captain Smek).  Oh, and they kidnap her mom too.  What follows is a silly and sometimes poignant romp as Gratuity sets out with Pig to find her mom and avoid being forcibly relocated (first to Florida, then to Arizona).  She quickly picks up an unwelcome companion in the form of a Boov on the run and despite her best efforts they form an uneasy alliance.


Although the book was amusing and the story was generally engaging, it felt overly long to me.  It seemed to be trying to be a buddy/journey story along the lines of Huck Finn or Homeward Bound, but unfortunately it left me wondering “are we there yet?” almost as often as I wondered “will they make it?”  This is possibly an unavoidable side effect of it being a silly tween story, as I never once was scared for anyone’s life.  (Except maybe Pig.)  Without any real gravity to what would clearly be a tragic story in real life, the rambling and references to Huck and Jim seemed like a burden to our travelers’ story, rather than giving it depth and meaning.  The book was most engaging when it was focused on the absurd or even Gratuity’s overwhelming despair at the unlikely prospect of ever finding her mom, not when trying to include overt social commentary.  Thankfully, the former parts are more than enough to make up for the latter bits.


Awards and Reviews: Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

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