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The True Meaning of Smekday Paperback – May 5, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Smek Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.) PW"

About the Author

Adam Rex is the New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich. His other books include Pssst!, Moonday, The True Meaning of Smekday, Fat Vampire, and Cold Cereal. He also illustrated the Brixton Brothers series, Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem, and Chloe and the Lion, all by Mac Barnett and Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit him at adamrex.com or follow him on Twitter @MrAdamRex.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 740 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; Reprint edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786849010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786849017
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Rex grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, the middle of three children. He now lives in Tucson with his physicist wife Marie.
His picture book FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH, a collection of stories about monsters and their problems, was a New York Times Bestseller. 2007 saw the release of his first novel, THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY.
Garlic and crosses are useless against Adam. Sunlight has been shown to be at least moderately effective. A silver bullet does the trick. Pretty much any bullet, really.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My 10 year old son and I read this book together. I initially bought it because it sounded like the plot line - involving aliens, weird contraptions, and "save the world" heroics - would be right up his alley. (He's lately been into "Star Wars" related stuff.)

The book involves a cross-country trip by a 12 year old girl, her cat and a renegade alien Boov, after the invading aliens have relocated all the humans in the U.S. - first to Florida, then to Arizona. They must then go on to save the planet from the second wave of alien invaders, the Gorg. However, the main focus of the story is around how the relationship between the girl and the alien evolves. There are some great exchanges as the two travellers try to comprehend each other's cultures - as well as many pot shots at American popular culture. The drawings (including what's made to look like Polaroids from the trip) were also a big hit with my son.

We both laughed out loud throughout the book, and my son literally ripped it out of my hands on several occasions wanting to re-read a funny section to himself. We now have so many inside jokes about the Boov that my husband says he'll have to read the book too to get in on them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find myself wishing I had half of Adam Rex's genius with language so that I could at least come close to describing how much I loved reading this book. Tip and J.Lo are a Huck and Jim for the 21st century, and their adventures are everything adventures should be: dizzying, hilarious (truly, I laughed out loud, and I almost never laugh out loud), dazzlingly brave, and crisscrossed with every possible emotion, including sorrow and the kind of fierce, fearless, loyal love only children and renegade Boov can feel. The illustrations are marvelous, but the language is what really hooked me because the language is quirky and lovely and electric and exquisite. Right word after right word after right word until the very end. Mark Twain would be proud. Mark Twain would be jealous! Everyone, everyone should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Adam's books are always fun to read and view. What a talent-both his sense of humor and drawing skills are outstanding! My wife and I both laughed outloud more than once during this read. We can't wait to share it with our grandchildren, read Adam's next book and meet a Boov, in that order, I hope. My advice-buy it; I'd bet you'll laugh outloud, too.
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Format: Hardcover
True Meaning of Smekday, TheYou know you're in for a wonderful ride when the citizens of the U.S. are all relegated to Florida by a group of invading aliens...and you haven't even gotten to page ten.

Sly digs at consumerism, Disney World, Manifest Destiny, the treatment of immigrants, Native Americans, and even No Child Left Behind give this book the zing of awesome satire, and like the best children's books, it's written on at least two different levels. Improbable as the plot sounds -- young preteen joins with Artoo-shaped alien to save the planet -- it's a wild ride and one you care about. Plus, did I mention how absolutely FUNNY this book is? The book hooked me when the young heroine, Gratuity Tucci, successfully traps one of the alien Boov (later to call himself "J. Lo," and no, I'm not kidding). The Boov threatens to shoot Gratuity, but realizes he has no phaser. Capitalizing on humans' ignorance of all things Boov, the alien threatens to zing her with his "eye lasers." Capitalizing on the Boov's ignorance of all things human, Gratuity threatens to "explode his head," explaining that humans CAN do this, but usually don't, "because it's rude." Wonderful!
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A Kid's Review on January 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book has something crazy on every page. It has you on a hook from the very beginning.
It is not like any other book I've read. It is the weirdest story ever. The aliens in it are hilarious and made reading fun.
There were times when I wanted to scream at the main character, Gratuity for the insane things she did. I started looking for aliens everywhere!
Don't let the fact that this book is so thick scare you off. It is worth reading and you'll be sorry when it ends.
I am a third grader and I loved this book, but I think even older kids would like it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
let me just say right off the top that i am 51 years old, not quite the target audience for this book but i LOVED every minute of it! i would not hesitate to gift this to young friends or old, it is enjoyable for any age group. i bought this book purely for it's title and it paid off in spades. very well written, the plot is exciting and layered, the device of our protagonist writing her story to future generations well conceived...she is spunky and smart, the alien j.lo amusing and adorable, the dangers huge and the solution ingenious. and can i just say how much i loved the illustrations and especially the comic book explanations of things alien!!! am going to look up other adam rex books and hope he has more like this or does more like this in future. i'm a fan! hooray for judging books by their covers/titles! (and please don't let disney make this into a movie...they will wreck it!!!)
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Format: Hardcover
It's been a year since the aliens left, and the National Time Capsule committee is collecting essays on The True Meaning of Smekday, one of which will be chosen to go into the capsule and unearthed in one year.

What aliens? What is Smekday? We're about to find out, through the essay of (then) 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci, who lived through the invasion.

The True Meaning of Smekday has been described as "truly wonderful" and "snappy". I was really hoping for a story like that, but I try to keep my expectations neutral as reviews are just personal opinions, after all.

In my experience, this book was only occasionally wonderful and infrequently snappy. It started out promisingly but never really delivered. My ten-year-old son and I laughed out loud a few times (mostly in the very first section), and I was sometimes struck by a well-written and vivid scene or sentence (eg "So we watched the storm, watched the wind push the rain around in billowing sheets like the ghosts of old oceans.") but I wanted the whole book to be like that. It was a shame and a frustration to catch these glimpses of laugh-out-loud humor and lovely prose but to most of the time be stuck in average writing and meandering plot work.

This is not to say it was all bad, just that it could and should have been so much better. There was a thread of fun running throughout, most especially because of Gratuity's partner in crime, a Boov named J.Lo who is very fun to read aloud if you're one of those parents who does the voices. It's also peppered with well-done illustrations, including some cartoon-strip-esque narratives in which J.Lo explains things about Boovish culture and history.

A note about the cussing - there is cussing, and it's not (just) 'turd' or 'oh my God'.
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