The summer in between his sixth and seventh grades could have been awesome. It could have been basketball camp. It could have been lounging by the pool. It could even have included winning the ultimate challenge with his best friend, and kissing a girl.
But no, instead David (aka Scrub) is sent by his mostly absentee parents to spend the summer with the grandmother he’s never even met, in the middle of nowhere, with no cel reception or internet access. His grandmother who dresses like a hippie, only cooks things made of soy or grown in her garden, and worst of all, runs a bed and breakfast for crazy people who want to dress up like extras from Star Trek. His parents, his grandmother, and all the guests must be insane.
At least that is what David thinks. But the evidence that meets his eyes on arriving at the Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast makes him wonder if he is the crazy one. A nearly seven foot tall ashen skin man sniffing the mailbox. A family of four of unusual proportions walking on all fours down the hall. And things just get stranger from there. The house rules, posted in his room, are as following:
- Leave nothing behind
- Take nothing with you
- Dress appropriately
- Two arms, two legs, one head
- No harming the natives
David’s suspicions are confirmed when his grandmother reveals that her guests are all tourists from around the universe, and she needs him to help her keep things going. Can he keep the tourists from revealing their origins to the suspicious town? Will his summer suck as badly as he thought? Well you’ll just have to pick up a copy of Clete Barrett Smith’s Alien’s on Vacation.
Somehow, in this science fictiony story, Smith has managed to capture more realism and humor then are found in many supposedly realistic fiction books. Rather then trying to write the next Harry Potter, or the next Percy Jackson (sort of the same thing really), Smith writes a book that will resonate with boys and girls, make them laugh, and look at the people around them a little different. The afterword refers to the author’s critique group criticizing this as having too much Narnia in it, but unlike most fantasy this book isn’t about entering or discovering a strange world, but about looking at the real world and discovering that, if we let it, the strange things will come out. And that most of the really strange things are us.
I’d recommend this book for middle grade kids. It isn’t violent (though Scrub does have things thrown at him, including rotten fruit and someone’s elbow), and has less of the potty humor of Wimpy Kid books. There may be a first kiss, but it is pretty innocent. In many ways this is The Strange Case of Origami Yoda on summer vacation.
Reviewed from Advanced Reader’s Copy obtained from NetGalley.