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Blog Roll, book reviews, Middle Grade

Book Review: Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

Summer at the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast with his estranged grandmother was not what David (aka Scrub) had in mind for his summer. There was the basketball team to practice for and his best friend to do dares with, yet he was shipped off so his parents could focus on their work. But that was nothing new for Scrub, as they did this to him most summers, sending him many places over his childhood years.

When he arrives, Scrub encounters a strange towering fellow in front of his grandma’s B & B, and it is quickly apparent that things will be anything but boring this summer after all. Mr. Harnox might be the unlucky guest of the inn but proves to be a killer on the basketball court, as Scrub is fortunate to find out. 

As fate would have it, Amy, a bubbly lover of all things alien, happens upon Scrub around town, and they become fast friends. She knows of his grandma’s place and is eager to learn more, which could make it difficult for him to keep the secret of what’s going on within its walls. It won’t be any more difficult than staying off the radar of her father: Sheriff Tate. 

David’s grandmother entrusting him with secrets and responsibility offers him a new sense of confidence, and even as he tests the limits of what he has been charged to do, by the novel’s nail-biting conclusion, his ingenuity and ability take centre stage. 

Clete Barrett Smith is a creative and thoughtful writer. This middle-grade story offers quirky, richly drawn characters, and I had a blast narrating their different voices to my howling 7-year-old son. You can listen to an excerpt I posted for Storytime Sunday last month here

There are important lessons to be learned while the themes of family, friendship, responsibility, and acceptance fill the pages. If was fun to watch the whole thing come together at the end, although I wasn’t at all sure how that would be until it was upon us. We were also thrilled to see this was the first in the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast Series, when stumbling upon the first chapter of the second volume, Alien on a Rampage, in the back of the book. We were sure to add it to our library queue post haste! 

Below you’ll find Zarnox, the alien bookmark I was inspired to design after meeting all the extraterrestrial travellers in Aliens on Vacation. This cutie was lucky enough to holiday in our backyard here in sunny Canada, and I can tell you, more fun has never been had this side of the Milky Way!