Friday, October 20, 2017

The Kid from Planet Z: Crash! by Nancy Krulik

The problem with buying almost any chapter book at this point in publishing history is that you're not just committing to ONE book. You're committing to a SERIES of unknown length and quality. Of course, there are a lot of benefits to series - they keep kids reading, meet that important need for repetition and familiar characters, and are just fun. How many tv series and book series do adults devour? Lots.

But there has to be a limit on how many beginning chapter series I can invest in, especially since I have a limited space that I only update once a year for paperback series. Will this one make the cut?

Zeke, his parents, and their commander Zeus have crashed - on Planet E! Earth is a long way from their home of Planet Z, but they're going to have to stay for a while because their ship is broken. That means Zeke is going to have to go to school and pretend to be human! Not only that, they're going to need to earn some money, somehow. Did I mention their commander, Zeus, is a cat?

Each page is bordered by a blue pattern and the illustrations are blue-hued sketches. Zeke is biracial (and alien) and Thomas actually manages to get a reasonable number of children crammed into the classroom, even if they're only background shapes.

The book is mildly amusing, with a lot of familiar tropes - the alien kid who doesn't fit in, trying to figure out how human things work, etc. The addition of the cat stands out - he's intelligent but still a cat and definitely does not appreciate the discovery that cats are pets on earth.

But does it stand out? It's funny and has a nice touch of diversity, but there are other alien chapter books out there like Space Taxi. It's not a genre I get a lot of requests for - the emphasis is more on "funny" than "science fiction" or "aliens" and I have a lot of funny beginning chapter books.

Verdict: This is a decent beginning chapter book series, but it doesn't stand out enough to be added to my collection. I've just added a new series that mixes diversity, fantasy, and science so this is extraneous. It's a perfectly fine addition if you need it though.

ISBN: 9780448490137; Published 2017 by Grosset & Dunlap; Review copy provided by the publisher

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