The True Meaning of Smekday

Common Sense Media says

Alien invasion is comical and fun, but too long.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some racial tension.


Much cartoonish violence: a man is hit on the head and knocked out, weapons cause explosions and fire, references to alien body parts after an explosion.


A reference to how babies are made, human and Boovish.


Assorted mild swearing: "Hell," "Jesus," "ass," "boob," etc.


Car brand mentioned. Most of the other products named are imaginary spoofs on real products and places, especially DisneyWorld.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several types of alcohol mentioned.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is some cartoonish violence, with science-fictiony weapons that vaporize things, and lots of explosions. Once character is knocked out, and otherwise only non-character aliens are hurt. There is also some mild swearing.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In essays for school and a time-capsule contest, Gratuity Tucci describes her cross-country road trip with a Boov alien she calls J.Lo. The Earth has been invaded, her mother kidnapped, and all Americans are herded into a reservation in Arizona. From there she and J.Lo work to stop yet another invasion by even worse aliens, the Nimrogs, who were inadvertently drawn to Earth by J.Lo.

Is it any good?


This is good, silly fun, the kind of story in which the main characters bicker over a walkie-talkie about what to call their plan (Operation: Catastrophe vs. Operation: Piggyback, both puns) even while running and being shot at by marauding alien monsters. And the evil alien monsters love fighting and musical theater, and "fought one another in a three-hundred-year-old civil war that is believed to have started over a parking space." You know, the kind of goofy, off-the-wall humor that many kids think is just hilarious.

Illustrated with a few comic strips (could have used more of those) and other drawings, the book bogs down in places, and would have benefitted from a firmer editorial hand: lopping off about 150 pages would have done the story no harm and done more to hold the interests of the kind of kids who will be drawn to something like this. Still, this will be a popular choice for fans of Terry Pratchett and Larry Gonick, and, with its abundance of strange creatures, whacky scenes, and silly accents and voices, it should make a great read-aloud.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about some of the issues the author raises. What are the parallels between what the Boovs do to humans and what Europeans did to Native Americans? Are the Boovs ultimately good or bad? What do you think of the way Americans organized themselves in Arizona? What do you think would really happen if all Americans were shipped to Arizona?

Book details

Author:Adam Rex
Illustrator:Adam Rex
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:October 9, 2007
Number of pages:423
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

This review of The True Meaning of Smekday was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old August 7, 2011

Really Quite Good

This book is definitely one of my top, like, five favorites. It was one of those books that, though quite long, seemed short. I am a huge reader, and I found my self riveted by the action and (often) clever humor. I give this book three thumbs up :D!!!
Parent of a 7 and 16 year old Written byroseb March 14, 2010
I am a 48 year old home school mom who read this book after hearing my 16 year old daughter laughing uproariously throughout the two days in which she devoured the book. I found it just as funny, well-written, and entertaining. I love the loyalty exhibited by Gratuity and J Lo, the depth of the characters, the tongue in cheek cultural observations, and the friendships and family ties that overcome any and all obstacles. I will purchase a copy for our home library and wait with great anticipation until my 7 year old is ready for his introduction to Smekland. Please say there is a sequel on the way!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 8 and 10 year old Written byBAJH February 20, 2013


We had lots of laughs together reading this book. A bit lengthy and too much detail in the middle, but overall a good read.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass