Admit it, telling whoppers (a kinder, gentler word for lies) can be loads of fun. Especially when your listener’s eyes grow big and round as saucers. But what if something amazing suddenly happens and you can’t get anybody to believe you?
That’s what happens in author Marilyn Singer’s new picture book, The Boy Who Cried Alien. In this spin-off of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Larry is the neighborhood prevaricator (another nice word for liar) and the author of quite a few doozies (yet another word for big, fat lies). He lies about everything from secret-agent dads to smelly Big Feet who like to shower in the school gym! Yes, his is just about the most active imagination in the city, yet he’s still shocked the day a toothy-looking spaceship lands in Malarkey Lake.
Naturally, the townspeople don’t believe Larry when he describes greenish creatures with big eyes and garbled language. But when the aliens head straight for the center of town, the townspeople realize Larry is finally telling the truth. As the aliens gawk at them with big, wiggly eyeballs, the townspeople can’t help but wonder…who, oh who, will save them???
I love The Boy Who Cried Alien! Like Goldilocks’ porridge, the sentences are not too long and not too short, but just right for the young independent reader. Singer’s partly-in-rhyme, partly-in-regular-prose style of writing is as delightfully unpredictable as young Larry’s humongous tales. And though the vocabulary is a bit of a stretch for the age 4+ crowd the book targets, it’s exciting enough to keep the very young engaged, and challenging enough to move older readers (grades 1-5) to the next level of independent reading.
One more thing: True picture book lovers will celebrate artist Brian Bigg’s exaggerated style of illustration. Everything in the book is huge and stretched out of place, from Larry’s big mouth on the cover, to the aliens’ weird, round eyeballs. Even the text is over-the-top, making for a most pleasant visual and verbal experience.
There’s a wonderful translation section in the back of the book, where the author tips readers on how she made the alien words. With this clue, alien-loving children should be able to create their own words and practice communicating in the good old-fashioned “alien” tongue. The author also provides a fun word-for-word translation of the curious stuff the aliens said throughout the book.
If you like fun illustrations, secret-code languages and pop-eyed aliens, you’ve got to get this book. And by the way, I’m giving it 5 STARS.
Best wishes and happy translating,
PICTURE BOOK DEPOT