Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Book Summary

Gratuity ("Tip," to her friends), finds herself in a nightmare scenario: aliens have abducted her mom.  After the Boov take over the planet on Christmas day, humans are forced to move to Florida.  When Tip's car breaks down on the way (she's eleven and she's a perfectly good driver, except for the stuff she hits), she reluctantly befriends a Boov who helps her with the repairs.  Together with her cat, Pig, they embark on a crazy adventure to find Gratuity's mom and save the world from another set of aliens.  If only Earth weren't such an appealing planet . . .
The True Meaning of Smekday book cover
The True Meaning of Smekday

Book Review

This book is hysterically quirky.  It may not be for everyone, but if it is for you, you will adore it.  It is surprisingly unique and filled with funny references and word play.  It is a little like giving Katniss Everdeen a sense of humor, making her eleven, and throwing her into an Independence Day/Mars Attacks hybrid movie. It's somewhat unusual to find a female protagonist at the center of a science fiction book about an alien attack, but Gratuity's story is all the more reason to pull up a page and laugh till it hurts.

The book is long--over 400 pages--and there may be points where readers wonder what else could possibly happen to these characters.  While the ending is not too hard to predict, there are too many charmingly written exchanges to miss this adventure.

Please note: Although the animated movie, "Home" is based on this book, and while it captures some of the book's charm, it is directed to a younger audience, and its humor leans more toward slapstick than word play. The book is more sophisticated and clever than the movie; if you have seen it, you have not really appreciated what the book has to offer.

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So I sang the first Italian song that came into my head, which happened to be 'Volare.'  I'm sure I need not mention at this point that I am a rock star, and it sounded fantastic."
          p. 161

"In the opposite arm she cradled Andromeda, who was wearing both her Legolas onesie and her Keebler booties. Which seemed wrong, you know--mixing two different kinds of elves like that.  So now I knew. "  p. 267

"Apparently, comic books were, like, a serious art form on Boovworld, not just stories of badly dressed men hitting each other."  p. 168

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Family Relationships
  • Perseverance in Life & Death Situations
  • Alien Invasion
  • Loyalty and Power
  • What Society Values vs. What's Really Important

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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