A Field Guide to Aliens: Intergalactic Worrywarts, Bubblonauts, Sliver-Slurpers, and Other Extraterrestrias by Johan Olander (Marshall Cavendish 2010, middle grade, 61 pages).
As the author of A Field Guide to Monsters (2007), Johan Olander is deluged with rumors of mysterious creatures around the world. But in the course of his investigations, he has reached a startling conclusion. "My research," writes Mr. Olander in a letter to the reader, "has made it clear that about forty-five percent of the monsters reported are actually aliens."
And so he created a field guide to the aliens, containing descriptions of twenty-seven variously silly, scary, intriguing, grotesque, kind of creepy aliens. Each alien gets a two pages packed with detail about the aliens' technology, history, and presence on earth, including reproductions of Actual Evidence (these pieces of evidence are one of the most amusing aspects of the book--I chuckled out loud several times). And it is all copiously illustrated.
I liked the Cloudians in particular--"They are abundant in the skies all over the planet, but their perfect camouflage makes them almost impossible to spot." The False Santas, and the sinister Beby, however, would send me screaming into the street if I ever met them....
I found it somewhat tricky to write about this book. I kicked my nine-year old (gently) off the computer, and began the post....then "Oh, you're reviewing that? I want to read it again" and he absconded with the book. Since his reading life is more important than my bloggling life (I guess), I had to put writing this on hold. But that's a most excellent problem to have with a book...and it attests to the strong appeal this book has to the middle-grade reader!
Although I myself can take or leave most of the aliens (Cloudians excepted), the book was not without appeal to me too-- I do so love this type of psudeo-Edwardian book in general, with its faux antiquarian handsomeness, and all the detailed scientific-esque illustrations. And I vaguely feel that when children read books of this kind they are being unconsciously prepared for the multitude of worthwhile careers in which one draws and labels things in notebooks, which is all to the good.
But all that aside, any book that captures and sustains the interest of my picky reader, as this one did, is one that I heartily recommend.
Another blog review can be found at Kinderscares
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)