A fabulous fun story with beards climbing out of toilets, bus chases and life-endangering escapades. A must for emerging and confident readers.
You might not realise it but Earth is under constant alien attack. Luckily we humans don’t need to worry because the Pet Defenders (a secret society of our domestic pets) are always on standby to keep us safe. The activities of the Pet Defenders are normally kept secret but Stripes Publishing are kindly allowing human children a brief glimpse into their exciting adventures. In Beards From Outer Space we are able to read how a dog and cat – secret agents Biskit and Mitzy – team up to rid the world of an army of alien beards.
The idea of Pet Defenders who keep the world safe while humans are off at school and at work is, undoubtedly, one that will appeal to children (and, in my case at least, adults). Couple that with an invading army of alien beards which attach themselves to the faces of unsuspecting humans in order to take over their mind and body and you have all the ingredients for a hysterical and totally mad adventure.
I have absolutely no doubt that emerging and confident readers will adore this laugh out loud story. Indeed, I challenge you not to fall in love with Biskit and Mitzy, especially once you discover that Biskit is still grieving for his former detective partner (who was sucked through a portal into space) and that Mitzy’s owner is missing, leaving her alone on the streets. The other characters are equally appealing – from bunny Commander F who struggles to control the secret agents, to the friendly alien Barb (who takes the form of a goldfish) and, my personal favourite, a mouse called Example One from the Nothington Extra Terrestrial Research Division (known as NERD, for short).
The plot is just as silly as you’d imagine from this list of characters with beards climbing out of toilets, bus chases and life-endangering escapades. It does, however, have a sound story structure with a clear beginning, middle and end. It also includes some truly genius details. I particularly enjoyed reading about the history of the Beard King (including how he took control of a series of historical figures from Atilla the Hun to Henry the VIII). While I loved this, I suspect children might prefer to learn how the Pet Defenders effectively wipe the minds of witnesses once the Earth has been saved: they enlist the help of the seagulls who swoop down and splatter them with sticky Forget-Me-Plop!
Overall this is a fabulous fun story but my review wouldn’t be complete without mention of the wonderful cartoon black and white illustrations by Steve May. I especially like the picture of a grumpy-looking Commander F with his head sticking out of the cat flap and Mitzy’s fight with one of the beards and a can of shaving foam. Intrigued? You’ll have to check out the book to find out more.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to get hold of a copy of Pet Defenders: Attack of the Alien Dung! published earlier this year. Or, if you’re looking for something equally silly, The Bookbag enjoyed reading about the adventures of Spangles McNasty in Spangles McNasty and the Fish of Gold by Steve Webb and the story of the teacher who transforms into a mayhem causing creature Creature Teacher by Sam Watkins.
Date: May 2017
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Author’s Website: Gareth P. Jones
Review first published on The Bookbag