Title: The True Meaning of Smekday
Author: Adam Rex
Publication Date: October 2007
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: 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 by a remarkable new talent.
What I Think: I remember burying a time capsule when I was in elementary school. I have no idea if people still bury time capsules, but I remember them being awesome then. This book is the story Gratuity tells so that it can go into a time capsule to tell people in the future about when aliens invaded Earth. It's an interesting way to tell the story and asking kids to write about their world for people in the future would be fun. I think this would be especially perfect for middle schoolers and high schoolers because pop culture is so interesting and unique. I'm sure my students would have a completely different story about life today than I would. Especially with all the changes in technology, I would love to read what they have to say.
This book reminded me a bit of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I liked reading about Gratuity's journey to find her mom and save the Earth...but at the end, it gets interesting when readers finally find out how things all fit into place. It was like a lightbulb going off in my head which reminded me of the end of When You Reach Me.
This book is a perfect example of middle grade science fiction! Sometimes I think it's hard to find science fiction that isn't dystopian or post-apocalyptic. I wouldn't consider this book to be either of those, to me it's pure science fiction.
Read Together: Grades 6 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 9
Read With: When You Reach Me and First Light by Rebecca Stead, 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass, The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick, Cosmic by Frank Cotrell Boyce, The Name of This Book Is Secret by Psuedonymous Bosch
Snatch of Text:
"I'd been living by myself after Mom left. I didn't want anyone to know. I had learned to drive our car short distances by nailing cans of corn to my church shoes so I could reach the pedals. I made a lot of mistakes at first, and if anyone was walking on the sidewalk at 49th and Pine after dark on March, 3rd, 2013, I owe you an apology.
But eventually I got really good. Like, NASCAR good. So, while more people were reporting I'd drive there myself, with no help from anyone." p. 7
Mentor Text For: Making Connections, Asking Questions, Characterization, Expository
Writing Prompts: Describe the world (small - like your city or town - or big - like your country or the whole world) and explain what you would want people in the future to know about what life was like now.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Aliens, Courage, Perseverance, Cloning, Teleportation