E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook Book Poster Image
Condensed telling of movie misses some of the magic.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Elliott shows E.T. where they are on a globe. E.T. creates a model of the solar system to show where he lives. E.T. builds a radio communication device created with household objects. The story suggests it may be possible to communicate with beings from other planets, which could prompt some interesting discussions.

Positive Messages

You can communicate with others if you learn their language. When you're separated from those you belong to, you'll do everything you can to get home. When friends part, they'll still have each other in their memories.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elliott is kind, open-minded, and open-hearted. He protects E.T. and does what he can to help him get home. Michael's a kind brother who helps Elliott and E.T. Gertie plays with E.T. and helps her brothers.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook is a condensed picture-book version of the entire Steven Spielberg movie, E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial. In simple language and appealing cartoon-like computer illustrations, it follows young Elliott's discovery of a space alien in his backyard, their growing friendship, and how Elliott and his brother, Michael, help E.T. (as Elliott names him) get back home. This adaptation hits all the main plot points but leaves out the tension and suspense and most of the magical, spiritual connection found in the movie. Fine for very young kids, but a spoiler for those who might one day see the movie. 

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What's the story?

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL: THE CLASSIC ILLUSTRATED STORYBOOK is a picture-book adaptation of the story that unfolds in the beloved Stephen Spielberg movie. It begins with Elliott finding an extra-terrestrial (E.T.) space alien in a shed in his backyard, luring him inside with candy and hiding him from his mom. E.T. plays dress-up with Elliott's sister, Gertie, and then figures out how to contact his folks back home so he can be rescued. Elliott, Gertie, and brother Michael take E.T. out on Halloween disguised as a ghost; E.T. is captured by scientists, but the kids help him escape and eventually "phone home" and get picked up by his spaceship.  

Is it any good?

This condensed telling of the story that's laid out in the movie is a mild adventure that should please little kids, but it's no match for the film version. Plot points that are super tense in the movie unfold kind of flatly in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook. The scientists' nail-biting pursuit of E.T., for example, comes off rather plainly: "Michael's friends brought their bikes, and they all raced to the woods. The scientists chased them!" There's mention that E.T. is starting to feel sick, but this version skips the part after he's captured when he's so sick that his life is in danger, and Elliott gets sick, too, because of their mysterious connection. And the surprising, magical film moment when E.T. and the boys on bikes are lifted up in the sky loses its magic on the page.

But Kim Smith's illustrations are fun and friendly, and space-loving young kids should enjoy the ride. Warning: The book is a spoiler for those who haven't seen the movie yet. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the alien from outer space in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook. What would you do if you found an alien in your backyard? Would you keep it a secret or tell your parents? 

  • Have you seen the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial? How does the book compare? 

  • Would you like to be carried away on a spaceship? What would it be like to visit another planet? What do you think you'd find there? Try drawing a picture of the planet you'd visit.

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