Review: Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

imagesBook: Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth
Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Rating: 3.5 Stars:

Basic plot: Prez is in foster care (or Children’s Temporary) when he meets an alien/dog named Sputnik (he’s really an alien, but everybody thinks he’s a dog). Sputnik’s goal is to save earth from annihilation. All Prez wants to do is go home and live with his Grandad.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The List and how it works into the chapter titles and the plot.

2) I really liked Prez. He’s quiet and doesn’t talk much, but this didn’t feel gimmicky to me. We really get to know him through his first-person narration. And of course, through his conversations with Sputnik in his head. I really liked how this backfires on him a few times.

3) The plot connects realism with complete fantasy very well. There are some crazy, memorable moments, including the light sabre and Hadrian’s Wall (not at any way connected, by the way, but I won’t spoil it here).

4) The relationship of the Grandad and Prez. And how Prez starts to figure out what’s real and what’s not with regards to the map and the sea chest, etc.

5) Laika. The space history buff in me got quite excited when Laika comes into the story. (The journal is quite clever.)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) For some reason, I wasn’t crazy about Sputnik, the alien/dog. In fact, I would never want to meet Sputnik. Ever. I felt I should like him, but I don’t. And I feel kind of bad that I don’t.

2) This isn’t a page-turner. Is that bad thing? Maybe not.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – Liked quite a bit, but didn’t super love it. The best parts are Prez and the Grandad. I would definitely spend an afternoon with them, as long as they promised Sputnik wasn’t going to show up!

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Writing to Jane Austen

20161124ma_5506If you could write to your favourite author, who would you write?

For me, probably one of the first people on the list would be Jane Austen. Except, I can’t write her. Because she’s dead. 200 years dead. Yes, today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death in 1817.

That’s when I realized that all my favourite authors are… DEAD.

Okay, that’s not completely true. I like plenty of modern-day authors. I seek out their books. I get excited when I see a new book with their name on it.

But that’s not what I mean. The authors that I’d really, really admire are all dead. Jane Austen. Dead. L.M. Montgomery. Dead. E. Nesbit. Dead. Charlotte Bronte. Dead. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Dead. C.S. Lewis. Dead. Arthur Ransome. Dead.

Okay, so what IF they were still alive? What would I want to tell them? These are the writers of the books that I love. They are the books I pick up again and again. I grew up with many of the books. Like C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or L.M. Montgomery. But not all of them fit into that category.

Take E. Nesbit. I discovered her books at University. Yes, they’re kids’ books. But they are magical. Same goes for Arthur Ransome. (Although, magical in a completely different way.)

So, what would I write? I guess I would want to thank them for creating stories that mean something. For creating characters that really live.

So…

Thank-you, Jane Austen, for Emma and Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility!

Thank-you, L.M. Mongomery for that feisty red-head, Anne!

Thanks, E. Nesbit, for those treasure-seeking Bastables and the Five Children and It.

To Charlotte Bronte, I love your Jane Eyre. Thank-you!

C.S. Lewis, you created a world I absolutely adore. I’m still looking for the wardrobe that leads into Narnia. Seriously, I’d like to go. (But in a time of peace, maybe.)

Thank-you Arthur Ransome for those adventures on the lake with the Swallows and Amazons!

And many thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder for explaining every detail of pioneer living! Every. Detail. I lapped it up!

So, if you could write to your favourite author… who would it be and what would you say?