An investigative journalist saves his school from a fate worse than lunch.
“Jonny Jakes” (not his real name) has little trouble keeping his identity as publisher and chief reporter of the scandal sheet Woodford Word from his infuriated principal, Mr. Hardy. The stakes soar, though, when Hardy is replaced by “Mr. Jones,” a seemingly benign alien from the planet Huurl who passes out addictive, mind-altering candy followed by special hamburgers that instantly add rolls of fat to all who eat them. And soon everybody (including parents) has fallen under his spell except for light-skinned Jonny and recruited confederates Norris Morris and Julie Singh, both dark-skinned. What’s Jones’ game? The burgers also have the effect of producing, as Jonny puts it, “Gas. Both ends”—a phenomenon that’s not only described in loving detail, but fits nicely into a tale that also features blobby purple people eaters, gray food that smells like sweaty socks, references to puke and snot, clandestine meetings in boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, casual violence, and a climactic food fight that splatters the lunchroom with “chocolate fudge, raspberry bits, and luminous alien guts.” Along with a side dish of butt crack, Brown serves up cartoon images of secret messages, headlines, revealing photos, and characters. Though it’s a British import, the book’s action has been relocated to Massachusetts and the text Americanized.
Exactly what’s to be expected when you take candy from five-eyed purple extraterrestrials. (Science fiction. 8-10)