Reviews for True Meaning of Smekday

Booklist Reviews 2007 October #1
Eleven-year-old Gratuity Tucci is assigned to write an essay, "The True Meaning of Smekday," explaining the significance of the day that the alien Boov, led by Captain Smek, took over Earth. Gratuity describes her journey across an occupied U.S. to rescue her mom, who has been abducted by the Boov. A renegade alien named J.Lo joins her quest, and together they return the planet to human control, while also defeating the mean-tempered Gorg, Boov rivals hoping to conquer Earth themselves. J.Lo's characterization, including his humorous clipped English and the touching sibling relationship he forges with Gratuity, help smooth out an otherwise sputtering narrative that is prone to tangential wanderings. Still, this mixed-media work, comprising letters, "photos," and Rex's hilarious comics (among them, a strip entitled "J.Lo's 8 Things You Have Always Wanted to Know about the Gorg but Were Afraid to Ask the Gorg Because the Gorg Might Punch You in the Face") is guaranteed to tickle the middle-school funny bone. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #6
What's an eleven-year-old girl to do when the same aliens -- the Boov -- who sucked up her mom "like soda" into their spaceship announce (after conquering the whole planet) that all Americans must relocate to Florida? Go along to get along? Not Gratuity "Tip" Tucci. Instead, Rex's spunky protagonist learns how to drive, packs up the Chevy, grabs her cat, and heads off to find her mother. Along the way, Tip meets a Boov mechanic named J.Lo, who soups up her hatchback with extraterrestrial parts, then hitches a ride. Turns out J.Lo himself is on the run after mistakenly advertising the planet's whereabouts to yet another alien species. Quite clever and highly entertaining, Rex's sci-fi/road-trip amalgam is loosely structured as a personal essay written by Tip two years after the Boov invasion. Now and then, readers hit a draggy stretch, but Rex holds interest with Tip and J.Lo's growing friendship and a sense of humor that calls Daniel Pinkwater to mind. ("'I spy, with my little eye, something that starts with...G.' 'Sausages,' guessed J.Lo.") Black-and-white illustrations -- a combination of Tip's Polaroid snapshots, J.Lo's comic-book panels, and additional drawings -- capture the characters' escapades and shed light on Boov history. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 September #2
Gratuity Tucci ("Tip" for short) has a problem. Aliens have invaded Earth, stolen her mother, and now she and the rest of humanity are being shunted onto small reservations while the invaders (the Boov) take over the rest of the planet. In avoiding this plan, via her family car, Tip runs across J.Lo, a renegade Boov with problems of his own. Together, girl and alien attempt to locate Tip's mother only to discover that an even greater alien threat is imminent. It's up to the two heroes to defeat the invaders, Boov and otherwise, and save the day. The humor in this story is undeniably unique, containing a skewed worldview that children will certainly enjoy. Yet while the first half of the book is an entirely funny road trip of the Kerouac-meets-E.T. variety, the second half slows down considerably. Rex has such a nice grasp of small tender moments amidst a world gone haywire, it's a pity the book wasn't pared down significantly. Inspired but problematic. (Fiction. 11-15) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 October #1

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.)

[Page 57]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 November

Gr 4-8 --Where does one begin when asked to write a five-page essay on the meaning of Smekday? If you are 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci, you begin prior to the arrival of the aliens, before your mother started receiving cryptic messages through a mole in the back of her neck, and before all Americans are forced to move to reservations in Florida to make room for the influx of an alien race known as the Boov. In a rebellious snit, Tip decides to drive her mother's car to Florida, rather than take the Boov rocketpods, and finds herself caught up in a most outlandish road trip with her cat, Pig, and her very own renegade Boov, J.Lo, for company. First-time novelist Rex has written an imaginative, wacky, hilarious sci-fi story that will appeal to fans of Eoin Colfer and Jon Scieszka. Lively cartoon-paneled illustrations are interspersed throughout and add to the fun. This is a fast-paced adventure with a whip-smart protagonist, a lovable and resourceful extraterrestrial, and plenty of social commentary.--Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

[Page 135]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2007 December
Gratuity "Tip" Tucci's mother was abducted by aliens, but no one believed her until the invasion. The Boov showed up on Christmas Day, declaring that they had discovered Earth and therefore it was theirs now, but they would kindly let the savage humans have a few places to keep. America gets Florida, complete with Happy Mouse Kingdom. Gratuity decides to drive there with her cat Pig in the hopes of finding her mother, despite being only twelve years old. Along the way they are joined by a runaway Boov named J.Lo, who really needs to hide out. Together they dodge attacks, pursuit, and interspecies confusions to Florida, New Mexico, and Arizona-and then the even more malevolent alien invaders, the Gorg, arrive. In the end, Tip helps save the world and finds her mom Written as a essay for a time capsule, Gratuity's strong and quirky voice puts a wry and clever spin on their crazy adventures, and crazy they are. The Boov eat bathroom sanitizer, wear oranges, watch too much television, and speak very bad English. The whole thing manages to be hilariously silly, even absurd, and yet maintains a cohesive and sensible plot and believable characters. It also serves up some pointed attacks on the silliest parts of American society, such as television obsessions. Artwork and even short comics are interspersed throughout, which are also funny and clever (some artwork was not included in the review copy). It all adds up to a fun ride for readers.-Teresa Copeland 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.