Aliens on Vacation Book Review

Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

Scrub doesn't get it. Why does he have to spend the summer with his grandmother? Sure, his parents are busy but surely he is old enough to stay home or at least with a friend. Instead he has been shipped off across the country to his grandmother who runs the 'Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast'--a place for all those weird sci-fi nuts to come hang out. Except there's something mighty odd about those sci-fi nuts. Soon Scrub is being sucked into the mania that is a real bona fide bed and breakfast for aliens on a backwoods planet where the only requirement is that the "guests" look vaguely human. With a nosy little girl, an angry sheriff, a stretched-too-thin grandmother, and a couple of giant tree-like children, Scrub finds himself in way over his head.

Although the story took a little bit to get rolling, once it did, it was going at full speed. Scrub isn't what I would call the smartest kid, especially considering it takes someone explaining the 'situation' to him for him to fully "get-it", however he is a quick thinker and amicable by nature so it hard to like him. His grandmother is the spacey type, but considering her line of work, that is understandable.

The writing is crisp, quick, and fun, giving me the same feeling I get when I read Roald Dahl or Eleanor Estes. Smith really knows his audience and although girls could read this novel, this is one novel that would be great for boys. From basketball to camping, summer challenges to first crushes, everything most boys like is here. After reading a number of very serious and dark books, Aliens on Vacation was a nice getaway to something a little more lighthearted and fun.

I was also excited to see that the author, Clete Smith, graduated from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Always nice to see a fellow MFA children's writing graduate out there publishing. It gives me hope.