Middle Grade Mondays: The True Meaning of Smekday

Middle Grade Mondays works! I was inspired to read this book when fellow MGMer Michael G-G posted about it a few months ago. (at least I think it was Michael at the Mafioso, forgive me if I misremembered)


from GoodReads:

When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

… Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent

I love this book.

I wasn’t sure I would at first. I’ve mentioned before that MG books that have a “cartoonish” feel to them usually don’t appeal to me. (Lightning Thief, Mysterious Benedict Society)

But this book is FUNNY. laugh-out-loud-fall-on-the-floor-hold-your-stomach funny. At least it was for me. Adam Rex and I apparently have the same sense of humour.

Once, while reading, I came to a page so funny I dropped the book and started laughing so hard I started crying. I was holding my stomach and my husband asked me what was up. Since we have the same sense of humour, I read (barely able to at one point) the page to him. He started laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe.

But intermixed with the funny are these wonderfully poignant moments between Gratuity and her new Boov travelmate J.Lo. You can see their friendship developing from a mile away, but it still feels warm, fuzzy, and genuine.  When Gratuity finally reunites with her mom, I had real tears in my eyes. And at the very very end, well, you’ll just have to read it. Let’s say that it was actually surprisingly moving.

In addition (yes, there’s more!) there is a lot of social commentary. Not in a preachy manner. Quite the opposite. It pokes fun at the foibles of the human race. I especially loved the history (drawn in comic book form) of the Boov and how it reflected our own planet’s history.

If you have trouble finding books for middle grade boys, this is a good choice. I think girls will love it, too. And adults. And Boov. (if a Gorg read it, he’d probably punch you in the face, though).

“What DID you send?”

“It was just a little song. I singed a little song to see if the antennas were able to be sending it back to my scooter.”

“What kind of a song?”

“A children’s play song.”

“How did it go?”

“Hm. It will not to rhyme in humanspeak.”

“That’s okay.”

J.Lo thought for a moment. “It goes . . . Gorg are dumb, dumb like soap, their wives are wider than they should be.”

“Uh-oh,” I said, looking ahead at the big purple ball.

“The funny part,” said J.Lo, “is that the Gorg do not even have wives.”



  1. gsprendergast
    Apr 23, 2012

    I really loved this book too. I can’t wait to read his latest, COLD CEREAL.

  2. Barbara Watson
    Apr 23, 2012

    I’ve had trouble lately with my gravatar and wordpress lately, so here goes…

    I have found so many titles through MMGM that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I love that! But my favorite thing is passing on a title to my kids and having them love the book!

  3. Gina
    Apr 23, 2012

    wow – that’s definitely a sell! sounds great, and i definitely didn’t hear of this one before. can’t wait to check it out 🙂

    happy mmgm!

  4. This sounds very interesting and very much like something my grandson would love. Thanks for the great review.

  5. It wasn’t me, Danika–although I now wish it was. This has been on my TBR pile for ages, and I’m boosting it up to the top, thanks to your review.

    • Ooh, guess I did misremember. Perhaps it just sounded like something you WOULD read. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll love it.

  6. coreenamcburnie
    Apr 23, 2012

    I will have to read this – I love to laugh!

  7. Kim Aippersbach
    Apr 24, 2012

    Oh, oh, oh, which scene was it that made you drop the book and laugh so hard you cried? (I know there are a bunch like that, but there was one in particular that did it for me.)

    I’m so glad you liked it!

    • It was just the scene where J.Lo is telling Gratuity about how bad television got on his planet. My husband and I both started giggling at ” . . . there is only then few channels. Three or four. We will call them A, G, Semicolon, and Pointy.” and totally lost it when J.Lo started listing off all their bad TV shows. “Big Celebrity Poomps!”


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