A stupendously silly intergalactic adventure that’s perfect for fans of Roald Dahl or David Walliams.
Eleven-year-old Jasper lives with his foster parents, Bill and Mary Clarkson, and his foster sister, Holly. Everything about this life is completely normal – apart from the fact he has green hair. Jasper thinks his green hair is the strangest thing about him until he finds Bill and Mary have been keeping a very big secret. Jasper is shocked to discover he’s really an alien prince from the Planet Gloop. When he has the opportunity to find out more, Jasper can’t resist and soon finds himself on an intergalactic adventure involving an encounter with the Andromedan emperor, an awful lot of slime, and a transformation into a giant slug.
The age of our main character, the format, and length of this book places it very firmly in the middle grade category. The clarity of the writing and the subject matter, however, make it equally suitable for younger readers from approximately 7 years and up. Indeed, this book will be enjoyed by anyone who likes the stories of Roald Dahl or David Walliams. (Although personally I found it a much more entertaining read than these two significantly more famous authors).
Written in first person from Jasper’s point of view, the text is very easy to read. Jasper is instantly likeable and I thoroughly enjoyed the opening where Jasper gives an imagined account of his birth and describes the challenges of having green hair. I really chuckled at the idea that he liked the green-themed names he was called at school (Bogeybrain, Snothair and Vomhead) until he realised “the other kids weren’t bigging me up after all. They just didn’t like my hair.” I also chortled when he described how, in response to this, he used Mary’s hair colour and spend the next month with his hair and face “dyed Vibrant Rich Auburn For Stubborn Greys”. While I enjoyed this more subtle humour, I suspect the target audience will love the more explicit jokes that fill this story. This includes giant slugs defeating evil baddies with jets of slime and pretty much every conceivable joke about the planet Uranus (including consideration of whether it should be renamed ‘Posterior’, ‘Behind’ or simply ‘Butt’) and the famous mountain range – the Twin Cheeks.
In keeping with the genre, the plot is stupendously silly with some simply inspired concepts. I just loved the way that Jasper and Holy are transported to outer space via the self-service checkouts at the local Asbi. And I laughed out loud at Jasper’s observation about the strange items in the central aisle at Asbi: “It didn’t take much imagination to think it might have been placed there by aliens who had no idea of human needs.” Even better still, is the scene where Jasper finally meets his parents and discovers [plot spoiler coming] that they’re slugs! I especially liked the fact that they’ve decided they prefer being slugs to being King and Queen of Planet Gloop.
If you enjoyed this and want to read another funny story about alien identity, why not try Help! I’m and Alien by Jo Franklin. Alternatively, for another wonderful Roald Dahl / David Walliams style adventure, why not try the Grandma Dangerous series by Kita Mitchell. This starts with Grandma Dangerous and the Dog of Destiny.
Publication date: May 2019
Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
Website: Lou Treleaven