Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Galaxy's Most Wanted

Galaxy's Most Wanted
John Kloepfer
Nick Edwards (illustrator)
HarperCollins, 2014  208 pgs.
Grades 3-5
Science Fiction/Humor
Galaxy's Most Wanted Series #1

Join Kevin and his three buddies, Warner, Tara, and TJ as they attempt to win the big science fair competition at summer science camp.  They need to beat their arch-nemesis, Alexander, whose team has created a really cool hovercraft.  Kevin and friends get an idea from a comic book to create a galactascope, a device that can contact aliens.  The device is assembled and, to everyone's surprise, works.  They attract a cute, little purple puffball with four eyes named Mim.  Mim, who eats everything in sight from candy wrappers to bugs, is in trouble.  Poachers are hunting him throughout the galaxy for his fur.  The team works to protect Mim, especially when other strange aliens arrive looking for him.  Meanwhile, its the day of the science fair.  Mim, the secret to their win, is nowhere in sight.  The hovercraft is really cool and threatens to take the trophy.  The team thinks on their feet and makes use of an alien telepathy helmet to mind-read and hypnotism the fellow campers, including Alexander.  After the fair the gang captures another alien, Klyk, who claims that Mim is not what he says he is.  He is actually an extraterrestrial criminal and plans on eating the planet earth.  Unfortunately, the team has shrunk Klyk, but he still manages to coach them from the safety of a backpack as they attempt to defeat Mim and his super-sized spider Poobah.  Kevin and his friends save the day with the help of Klyk and a giant smore.  But, just as the entire camp is celebrating, it is determined that Mim has contacted outlaw friends and they are hovering right above the planet earth, leading us to the next thrilling installment Into the Dorkness (May, 2015).

Kloepfer turns from zombies (The Zombie Chasers series) to aliens, using much the same format: exciting, humorous prose liberally sprinkled with cartoon-like illustrations.  The book reads like a comic and the action never stops.  Is Galaxy's Most Wanted great literature?  No, but it will find readers.  Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate are the target audience.  Its is fast, funny, and contains enough gross potty humor to make the target audience chuckle.  Boys, especially, will be drawn to this book, but throwing a girl onto Kevin's team makes it accessible to females as well.  I have kids at my library that will ONLY read books with illustrations.  This book will certainly circulate well and is an easy sell to reluctant readers.  There is currently a big push to incorporate non-fiction into kid's reading experience.  I had a father in the library last week looking for fiction books dealing with science, but something fun.   I can't say that kids will walk away from this book with new scientific knowledge, but it does demonstrate that science can be entertaining and cool and is a worth while way to spend your time.  The plot twist of Mim actually being evil adds some dimension to what could be a formulaic plot and there were some genuinely funny moments.  There is no character development to speak of, but who cares?  Its not that type of book.  I will sit back and watch Galaxy's Most Wanted fly off my shelves.

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