Summary: This is the humorous story of a 4th grader, seen through the eyes of a human hybrid alien child, sent to Earth to study our culture - to see if they could coexist with the humans.
Auggie has to try and understand 4th graders slang, body language, and the unwritten protocols of the classroom; all in an attempt to blend in. He upsets his teacher, Mrs. Malumrector, who constantly thinks Auggie’s trying to get smart with her when getting stupid with her would be counterproductive. Not only does Mrs. Malumrector not get Auggie’s literal logic, nor do any of the other students in his class. That is except for Left Hand Chuck who thinks Auggie’s hysterical and helps him by teaching him how to use human slang.
But if Auggie truly wants to complete his mission of blending in with the other children he needs to cheer for both teams, except if they’re losing. He needs to learn not to wear the ‘P and the J’ with the feet conveniently attached to school because they’re for sleeping in only. That ironically enough, Grandpa isn’t going to faint from low blood pressure even though his eyes often tend to roll upwards whenever Auggie is speaking. ‘Pop-a-Squat’ isn’t a good name for a dog, even though he’s great at it. And under no circumstance is he to bring his pet to school even if his teacher has her own pet there, Emily, another student in his class who is neither a gerbil nor a fish. (Summary and image taken from goodreads.com. I was provided with a free copy of Mission One of Auggie the Alien in return for my honest review.)
Elizabeth's Review: While Auggie's mother may be human, he's been raised by both parents in his father's alien culture. He looks human (actually, kind of elf-like - I kept picturing a little Legolas), but his alien brain is far more advanced than our own. Unfortunately, the social training he received was mainly conjecture, and there are bound to be some mix-ups when he enters human society.
To start, no one understands that he's an alien. Second, they don't get that he eats electricity. Problems, for sure, but how do you explain to an alien that grandma doesn't mean the Grand woman from Massachusetts? Or that just because someone rolls their eyes doesn't always signal a dip in blood sugar?
Spiegel and Summers have done a fantastic job with this book. I was able to tear through it in under an hour, and I laughed heartily more than once. The only thing that gave me pause was an overt environmentalist spin - that humans are evil, viewed as massacring the planet, and utterly incapable of change. That just rubs me the wrong way (and it's the main reason I didn't like Happy Feet, either). There is also a little bit of potty humor, but nothing that would prevent me from handing it off to my son. On that note …
Charlie's Review: It is really good because Auggie does a lot of funny things like jumping into a shark tank. I would never do that! Big Al is also really funny. He likes riddles. I think Auggie's dog Pop-a-Squat has a weird name. Before I read it, I didn't think it was going to be good but it was amazing!!
Our Rating: Four and a half stars
For the Sensitive Reader: I wasn't a fan of the environmentalist overtones, there is a bit of potty humor (see dog name above), and one of Big Al's riddles is a little scary. You may want to make sure your kids know that only aliens can survive on electricity, but other than that, it's a great book!