This short work of juvenile fiction introduces a group of extraordinary teenagers who, at the behest of a benevolent alien, join forces to combat bullying.
The story begins on the first day back from summer vacation, when the students of Gordon High School find a substitute teacher in their computer science class. The teacher is Juno, an alien in disguise, who happens to be looking to recruit six kids to help him put a stop to problems afflicting Earth’s schools and communities while also sending positive messages in the process. The ethnically diverse and undeniably cool teens (white BMXer and computer aficionado Jumpzz, black basketball player and science enthusiast Skillz, among others) are very different, but all exhibit the same laudable characteristics: They’re respectful, humble, studious, confident, involved in charity work, etc. The majority of the story, though, revolves around the teens meeting each other and Juno rather than helping Juno with his mission. Only at the very end does the bullying issue come up, when they confront Blake the Bully on the playground. Additionally, the narrative is inexplicably formatted like a screenplay, focusing almost exclusively on dialog. While the style may make it more palatable for young readers, it greatly diminishes the potential richness and depth of the reading experience. The story boasts a full cast of positive teen role models, along with eye-catching illustrations by the author, but the subject of bullying is only superficially explored.
The message of this well-intentioned book is clear, but a lack of substance diminishes its impact.