Expected publication: April 3rd 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format read: ARC via publisher
All Happy Conklin, Jr. has ever wanted is a normal life—but that’s probably asking a lot from his family. Dad’s a brilliant inventor, but every cent from his lucrative (and strange) inventions is Grandma’s. She lives in a mansion; Hap and his family live in the basement. Hap finds it all awful, especially shaving three times a day and sharing a room with his five sisters, each with wacky qualities thanks to Grandma’s testing of the inventions. Hap only means to get rid of Grandma, but when he—oops!—sells his whole family to aliens, he wants nothing more than to get them back. He just has to figure out . . . how?
This wonderfully madcap adventure series, full of lovable (and weird) characters, is told in a seamless blend of text and illustration from an exciting new voice in middle grade fiction.
Such was the case with How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens. Paul Noth has written a book that is delightful, funny and very Douglas Adams-esque in nature, and bonus: you can read it in less than a month.
Noth introduces us to Happy Conklin Jr., a ten-year-old who has the (mis)fortune of being the son to Happy Conklin Sr., an inventor. Unfortunately, Happy Senior likes to invent things that are often dangerous and - thanks to some nudging from a helicopter parent - test them on his kids, including Happy Jr.
Happy Jr. is determined to prevent Happy Senior from testing his latest invention on the baby of the family, so when the opportunity presents itself, he trades his grandmother to aliens. (Seriously, you're going to have to read it to understand!) But things don't go according to plan...
How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens is pure joy, from beginning to end. Noth has a knack for writing descriptors and scenarios that are packed with humor, even when these very scenarios are causing Happy Junior emotional angst. There's always a feeling that everything is, in fact, going to be okay - which helps alleviate some of the scarier parts of the novel, e.g. when Happy ends up on an alien world.
Without giving too much away, Noth especially excels at explaining packing complex themes and ideas into his inventions and his characters, including thoughtful ideas about identity and predestination. Several of the characters learn to redefine themselves and their expectations for their lives in the midst of this adventure, and Noth writes about these concepts in an idea that's not only easily understood, but beautifully accentuated by his illustrations.
(I can pretty much guarantee: you are never going to look at a honeycomb the same way, ever again!)
If you're looking for a book your young readers will return to again, and again, it's this.