It was at least a year ago that Paul and Colleen told me I ought to read The True Meaning of Smekday. It took me a while, but guys, you were right. So I’m late to the party, but because some of y’all may be as well, I’ll tell you the book’s basic premise. Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, 12, has an assignment:
Write an essay titled THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. What is the Smekday holiday? How has it changed in the year since the aliens left? You may use your own personal experiences from the alien invasion to make your points. Feel free to draw pictures or include photographs.
This is Gratuity:
This is a Boov, running:
The Boov have invaded Earth and renamed it Smekland. That’s pretty much all you need to know. But I’ll tell you more.
1. There are comics inside the book. Drawn by an alien. Named J.Lo.
2. One of the things that will nearly always sell me on a book is the quality of its throwaway lines; asides that don’t directly advance the plot, but add to characterization and/or the overall invented world. Smekday‘s got them in abundance. Some non-spoilery examples:
“…there was less than I’d expected in the rainy-day fund that Mom had kept in the bottom of an underwear drawer in a panty hose egg labeled ‘DEAD SPIDERS.’ As if I hadn’t always known it was there. As if I wouldn’t want to look at dead spiders.”
“…Lite Choconilla Froot Bites, which broke my usual rule against eating anything that was misspelled.”
“The Boov are having seven magnificent genders.”
3. Another essential: avoiding the Giant Didactic Hammer that is so sadly common in books for kids & teens. Rex does this beautifully. He is the opposite of heavy-handed, but among the laughs and adventure, you’ll also find insights about cross-cultural misunderstandings, imperialism, and the dangers of making decisions based solely on your assumptions about how things work.
4. Still not convinced? Here, watch a Human Learning Video: