The True Meaning of Smekday

by Adam Rex

Other authorsAdam Rex (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2007

Call number




Disney-Hyperion (2007), 432 pages


Fantasy. Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. Science Fiction. It all starts with a school essay. When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she's not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens - called Boov - abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod? In any case, Gratuity's story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity's mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
This humorous book is the first-person story of 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci, who survives an alien invasion of Earth but is separated from her mother in the process. She ends up forming an unlikely alliance with one of the Boov aliens (who gives himself the human name “J.Lo”) and sets off on a
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madcap adventure around the United States, trying to reconnect with her mother. Meanwhile, another set of aliens, the Gorg, arrive on Earth bent on further destruction, and Gratuity, J.Lo, and their cat Pig must stay one step ahead of them. This book is funny, sarcastic, and all around my cup of tea. It’s a mostly fast-paced narrative, though I have to admit toward the end it was starting to drag a little (it could have been just a bit shorter and just as good, especially considering its audience). The gray-scale sketches of various events in the book are an added bonus. Although the book is intended for older children and young adults, I think adults could just as easily (or perhaps more so) appreciate this book.
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LibraryThing member bragan
Eleven-year-old Gratuity "Tip" Tucci's mother is abducted by aliens, who then conquer the Earth and decide to relocate the population of the United States to a human reservation in Florida. Gratuity elects to drive rather than be transported, takes her cat, picks up an alien in need of a ride, has
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all kinds of trials, tribulations and adventures, and ultimately plays an instrumental role in liberating the world.

It's a wonderfully fun combination of hilarious wacky comedy, science fiction, road trip story, and satire on colonialism in one of those rare volumes that seems likely to work so well for both adults and kids that I'm honestly not sure which audience the author had in mind while he was writing. I enjoyed it immensely.

Although I am tempted to take back half a star for the way that the characters keep leaving their cat in the car for hours on end. In hot climates. In the summer. With no apparent bad consequences. Come on, Mr. Rex, that's just irresponsible! (I am, however, fine with the eleven-year-old driving a car by tying cans of corn to her feet so she can reach the pedals.)

Rating: 4.5/5, if I ignore the car-and-cat thing.
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LibraryThing member librarybrandy
If I had to describe this book in a word, I'd call it a romp. It's fun, it's funny, it's a fast-paced adventure. And it's very clever. Too clever, in fact; one gets the impression that the author is very impressed with himself, and cracks himself up with how witty and clever he can be.

Somewhere on
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GoodReads, I saw a description of a book (don't recall which one) as "it's like a friend's little brother--he's really funny and entertaining for a little while, and then you want him to go away." That's an excellent synopsis of this book.
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LibraryThing member mazeway
A really fun read for ages 9 or so up. I'm 41 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Really funny dialog, clever use of graphic illustrations. An 11 and a half year old girl named Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci, an alien named J.Lo, and a cat named Pig save the world.
LibraryThing member ALindelof
Tip is a girl trying to find her mother that has been stolen when the aliens first came. She teams up with Pig, a cat, and J.lo an alien. This book is good for people that like fantasy, cats and runaway people.
LibraryThing member mjsbooks
Adam Rex, who did such marvelous illustrations for "Frankenstein makes a sandwich," also puts his cartooning abilities to work in this humorous science fiction novel. It seems like things can't get worse when the earth is invaded by the Boov and all humans are moved to Arizona. When the even
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scarier Gorg show up, it takes 12-year-old Gratuity and her Boov sidekick J.Lo to save the day.
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LibraryThing member nutti72
11 year old "Tip" must journey across the country in search of her mother who disappeared when ab alien race, the Boov, invades Earth. She gets befriended by a Boov who helps her in her journey. This book was hard to classify genre wise.
LibraryThing member ambookgeek
A very entertaining YA read with a lot more subtext than you find in most books intended for YAs. A couple of my boys who've read it thought that it was "hilarious," but as I didn't get the chance to discuss it with them before the end of the school year, I don't know how much of the social
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commentary they actually picked up. A read that is well worth the time.
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LibraryThing member emitnick
This book is actually a very very long essay written by Middle School student Gratuity Tucci for a contest, the winning essay of which will be placed in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years - in 2113. In it, Gratuity (Tip to her friends) describes the invasion of the Boov and the subsequent
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relocation of all humans to Florida (and then to Arizona, as the Boov decide they want Florida for themselves). Tip's mother was taken by the aliens early on, and so 12-year-old Tip takes her cat and drives (yes, drives) off in search of her. Early on, she meets up with a stray handyman Boov, who reengineers her car to fly. Gradually, Tip and the Boov, who calls himself J.Lo, become uneasy friends and allies, as they avoid the Boov, meet all sorts of strange humans, and then find themselves dealing with an even more fearsome set of aliens, the Gorg.
This is an extremely funny book - the dialogue, whether tongue-in-cheek or absolutely outrageous, is snappy and Tip and J.Lo are both loveable, if often irascible and just plain nuts. J.Lo speaks English with a distinctly Boovian and very ludicrous accent - when he first meets Tip and is bluffing her, he says, "Then...then...I will have onto shoot with my gun!" and when that doesn't work, he tries "NO GUN! So I will have to...have to...SHOOT FORTH THE LASERS FROM MY EYEBALLS!" Tip carries around an antique polaroid camera, and so the book is illustrated with drawings depicting the polaroids, messily taped into the book.
First-rate, tip-top SF for all ages - Read This Book!!
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LibraryThing member librariankristin
Twelve-year-old Gratuity Tucci saves the world from alien invasion in this hilarious science fiction novel by the author of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. The Boov have invaded the Earth and want all the humans to relocate to Florida, until they change their minds about Florida and send them to
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Arizona instead. Gratuity and a rogue friendly Boov named J. Lo take a cross-country road trip and save the world from invasion.
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LibraryThing member PigOfHappiness
Hilarious! In this story of what happens when aliens fight over who's going to dominate over Planet Earth, one tween girl and one outcast alien somehow manage to save the world! Definitely worth checking out! Appropriate for middle school and beyond...
LibraryThing member quilted_kat
The funniest science fiction writing since Douglas Adams. I'm not just saying that. If you take the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, make it a children's book, and then add some cats, you would have the True Meaning of Smekday.
LibraryThing member herbcat
Good little science fiction political satire. Funny.
LibraryThing member kateweber
Gratuity "Tip" Tucci, her cat Pig, and an alien named J.Lo who is in trouble with his own Boov people, go on a road trip to find Tip's mom in this post-alien invasion story of friendship and family. The book was both funny and touching and thought-provoking, but none so much that it was a detriment
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to the others. The language was interesting and would be a great read-aloud, assuming the teacher has practiced some of the pronunciations before reading. I found myself wishing the book were a little shorter, but can't think of anything that could have been left out - it just seemed long at times.
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LibraryThing member D.Holliman
I don't really read Science Fiction books, but I did enjoy this story and thought that it was an interesting journey of self-growth. I love Rex's use of words and how he managed to keep the book with in reality so the reader didn't feel too disconnected from the real world that they couldn't
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understand the alien ideas and at the same time you still got to escape from reality.
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LibraryThing member lisamaggie
This book is about an alien invasion on the world, but the story is set in the U.S. Another group of aliens tries to destroy the first alien invaders and also take over the world, but with more hostile intentions. The characters are very funny - you will laugh a lot!
LibraryThing member meerka
Loved, loved, loved this J book. The illustrations are just as engaging as the story. Characters wonderful. Adults may be several steps ahead of the young readers, particularly if the youngsters haven't been introduced to UFology, but if you have a budding sf reader, take the time to discuss the
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"events" in Roswell, NM!
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LibraryThing member debnance
Gratuity Tucci tells the story of Smekday, the day aliens took over the earth, and the year following Smekday for a time capsule. The aliens turn out to be less scary than thought initially, but they in turn are followed by some really scary aliens who want to take over the earth from the first
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aliens (got that?) A fun little story.
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LibraryThing member sheherazahde
Gatuity "Tip" Tucci writes an essay for school about what happened when the aliens invaded, and the other aliens invaded.

A nice children's book. The narrator is an 11yr old girl and that seems to be the age group this aimed at. But there is a surprising amount of political satire involved that
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should keep the adults amused.
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LibraryThing member BrynDahlquis
Second time reading it:
Just as good as the first time around! Tip is hilarious and realistic, and as the book progresses, I just want to hug J.Lo more and more.

A very well-written book about a girl, an alien, a cat, and their mission to save the world.
LibraryThing member josephm1
Humorous story that takes place in the year 2013. Contains some graphic comic strips.
LibraryThing member ragingaddgirl
This is not the type of book I would usually pick up. Even as a child, I wouldn’t have chosen this one. I know they say not to judge a book by it’s cover but, lets face it, when people look for books the cover is the first thing we see.

This book blew me away. It was not at all what I expected.
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I was expecting a book featuring a boy or young man as the main character. I was surprised when the main character was a spunky eleven year old girl who was retelling how she and her alien friend saved the planet. While the book focused on the invasion of the planet by an alien species, there was a lot of subtext that can be used to encourage thoughtful discussions on treaty rights, war, and tolerance. Not only that, it was funny! I can only recall one other book* that made me nearly shoot coffee out my nose. As an adult, that is not the same thrill as it would be to a 10 year old, but still, three words…”Devastating Eye Lasers.”

This is a great book and everyone needs to read it, especially girls.

I must note that I did take advantage of the audio book version that was available at my local library, which was brilliantly narrated by Bahni Turpin. I had to go back to the book itself to appreciate the details of the small comics that were ‘contributed by J.Lo.’

*The other book that always makes me laugh? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I have read that a dozen times. I still crack up.
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LibraryThing member YAMaven
I listed to Listening Library's production of this on audio & what a production! I laughed out loud and the actress to read the story and does all the voices was incredibly talented. The audio production won an ALA award this year for best audio and I can see why. Highly recommended.
LibraryThing member 2wonderY
Listening to just the first few pages, I can tell this is going to be a delight. Fun and quirky descriptors.
LibraryThing member susiesharp
What a fun book!! I also highly recommend listening to this one on audio Bahni Turpin’s narration is Fantastic!!

I wasn’t sure what I would think of a book about an alien invasion since I am more of a fantasy girl than a sci-fi one. However this is such a fun story I recommend it to teens and
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adults alike! Our heroine Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is 11 going on 40 she is assigned a paper for a time capsule on “The True Meaning of Smekday” but Tip’s story is not the usual fare and she doesn’t know where to start, should it be when her mother starts receiving alien messages from the mole in her back? Or when she meets and befriends one of the Boov named J-Lo? Or about her journey to Happy Mouse Land where the aliens are sending all the humans?

This is such a great adventure and hilarious to boot. I love Tip and J-Lo well actually every character in this book is so fun! I don’t know what else to say, I just feel like I can’t do it justice other than to say go get this book and enjoy it! You will not be disappointed!

5 Stars
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0786849002 / 9780786849000


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