Read It and Laugh: More Hot Summer Series for Kids

by Ann Jacobus on May 20, 2014

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Alien Encounter by Charise Mericle Harper (Book 1 of the Sasquatch and Alien series (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt & Co.)

Fourth-grader Morgan Henry meets a new-kid-in-town when the latter is stuck hanging in a tree with a “giant wedgie.” The boys bond after Morgan cuts Lewis free (and thump, down). Line drawings throughout illustrate this and many other similarly compelling situations.

The whole book, in fact, is right up the tree of seven to ten-year-olds–males disproportionately–who like their aliens and Sasquatches thrown together, and who sit up and take note when the word, “underpants,” enters the conversation. If they giggle at physical humor and the occasional bodily function reference, all the better.

Harper balances her surefire humor with an engaging plot. When the boys revisit the scene of the tree wedgie, they see a real-live alien. Police and newspaper reporters are called in. The boys give descriptions and draw pictures. Sadly, local interest wanes quickly, and it’s up to the boys to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The truth turns out to be complicated and is revealed only after some spooky moments. It involves Morgan’s strange neighbor Mr. Lee who hates Halloween, a Sasquatch hunter named Mr. Holland, and Morgan’s 12-year-old sister Betty’s misshapen sweater she’s knitting for her imaginary boyfriend.

The target audience will find no shortage of things to enjoy about this book, including: a little blood, gravity (as in falling), Lewis’s home—a creepy old motel, alien hunters, a clubhouse, unusual knitting, suspicious muffins, piles of old mattresses to do flips into, both the joys and trials of a best friend, a scary, secret underground room, and vicious prickle bushes. There’s a requisite goofy dad, as well.

Harper knits together plot yarns for a satisfying and unexpected ending.  And naturally, there are a few mysteries left to be solved in Book 2 of the Sasquatch and Alien Series.

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