Many people boast that their barbecue is out of this world, but Willy’s fine-smelling and lip-smacking meal attracts visitors from outer space.
McCauley chooses a sweltering palette of yellow, brown and peach to cast the hardworking farmer on a hot Texas day. Observant readers will spot the flying saucer approaching as twilight falls. Soon, the inky black of space descends with the spaceship: “Some colored lights from outer space / Are lightin’ up the whole dang place!” Here, pastel shots of color serve to spotlight the alarmed animals on the farm, while a sinuous, pale yellow, wavy band of smoke wafts through the scene. The amazing aroma has drawn the “small green men” out to sample the fare and dance a “DO-SI-DO…a-fore [they] go.” They claim, “We don’t want your leader, Willy, / Just your BARBECUE and chili.” Duval chooses just the right amount of Texas twang to spice up the lively rhyming text. But soon, the aliens have taken over like unwanted party guests. They have had fun, wreaked some havoc and left the farm damaged. So Willy and his pet cat and dog board the UFO. A gatefold opens to show a map of their travels in space. The other side reveals the destination—a planet where various ET’s are enjoying a meal and some music at Willy’s new restaurant.
The knee-slapping humor, retro feel of the illustrations and the included recipe for Willy’s special sauce serve up some spicy preschool fun. (Picture book. 3-6)