In the first installment of Blanchard’s 10-part picture-book series, 8-year-old Amelia embarks on an outer-space mission with her alien friend Uglesnoo.
Amelia opens a birthday present to find what appears to be a doll in the likeness of a three-armed creature with an octopus head. Though Amelia swears she sees the doll wink, her mother assures her that it’s an inanimate object. Later in the night, the doll awakens Amelia, introducing himself as Uglesnoo. The strange creature explains that he landed there by mistake and must return to space to procure a healing crystal for his ill sister. Uglesnoo invites Amelia on his journey, promising through magical space-time to have her back before her parents wake in the morning. Amelia agrees, and they set off for the moon, where they meet other friendly alien characters with similarly cute names such as the Moochins and King Suli the Serious. Blanchard uses vibrant shades of cool violet contrasted with buttery yellow to set a warm, energetic atmosphere. The images’ bold hues and three dimensionality have the characters cartoonishly popping off the page in a way sure to engage young readers. The large serif text is also easy on the eyes for both young readers and their caretakers. Blanchard’s illustrations continue throughout, but the story is heavy on text, with some pages including only words. Though the dynamic images are likely to draw in readers of any young age, the tale’s length and complexity may make it best suited for children 5 to 9. Either way, the mission isn’t completed, since Uglesnoo must continue to other locations in space to procure more trade items, setting the stage for the next installment.
Appealing illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.