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From the Way-Too-Real Aliens series, volume 2

by Pamela F. Service & illustrated by Mike Gorman

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7613-7919-5
Publisher: Darby Creek

Caving to the demands of his pesky little sister Maggie, aspiring fictioneer Josh’s second fantasy story features a world with mermaids and unicorns. Sort of.

The devil's in the details, though, and just as in the series opener (Escape From Planet Yastol, 2011) the two find themselves stranded in an actual, newly made reality based on Josh's tale but inhabited by toothy, twisted versions of the residents he has inexpertly envisioned. Furthermore, during the ensuing series of captures and escapes, Josh and Maggie are joined by no fewer than five different kinds of creatures, each of whom turns out to be a youngest child afflicted with bossy parents and scornful older sibs. The plot is no more than a set of loosely connected set pieces, but readers may find the burgeoning corps of somehow–familiar-sounding furred, scaled, winged, finny and even stone whiners amusing, and budding writers may take both Service’s indirect advice about verbal precision and her embedded examples of Theme, Composition, Character Development and Revision to heart. Gorman’s angular figures of grotesque aliens and their frantic-looking creator in various predicaments goose up the comic overtones.

The weak plot doesn’t really bear up under its instructional load, but there’s enough farce to keep the lessons well-greased. (Science fiction. 8-12)