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Julian Rodriguez, Episode One: Trash Crisis on Earth
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
Julian Rodriguez is a decorated first officer who is sent to Earth to live as an 8-year-old Earth juvenile. He has endured much on this pitiful planet -- state assessment tests and attacks by girls. After a particular bad day for Julian, the Maternal Unit delivers the ultimate blow: He has to dispose of a pile of stinking, festering remains, otherwise known as garbage. Will he sink to those depths, and if he does, will he recover?
Is it any good?
Alexander Stadler has written a cool, funny, and fast-paced story. It will especially appeal to reluctant readers and fans of other illustration-driven novels like the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. And like Kinney, Stadler does a great job appealing to basic kid feelings -- that school is torture and adults are out to thwart fun at every opportunity -- in a clever and entertaining way.
At some point in time, every kid has felt like they were from another planet and just here to observe the weird social interactions among humans. And how strange it is that the parents Julian is "assigned" to live with don't understand his need for a steady diet of TV and junk food? Readers will wonder if Julian really is an alien or if he just wishes he were. Either way, referring to his parents as Maternal and Paternal Units and expounding on the value of cartoons is sure to get a couple of loud guffaws. Added to the clever dialog and Julian's rants on favorite kid activities like teasing and standardized testing, are some pretty cool illustrations. The stilted style evokes feelings of "otherworldliness" and really make the book come alive.