Now here me out. The cover of Aliens Stink! definitely has a certain type of boy in mind. You know, that hard-to-reach reader who is unlikely to be browsing the shelves in Waterstones in the first place. The premise – that not only have aliens come to Earth, but they also really pong – similarly feels like a cynical sales pitch. It is the kind of book we think we know.
But here’s the thing. Aliens Stink! is a joyous read: funny and serious and slightly wild, with the pace of a thriller for age 8+.
Tim Gooseheart is a slightly awkward child who sees himself as the biggest freak in the world. All Tim wants is to be the same as everyone else. His dad is a loopy, leftfield scientist who shows no interest in Tim’s feelings. He thinks he has bigger issues to contend with, like saving the planet. But then some seriously strange stuff starts happening on Planet Earth. Pollution is cleaned up overnight.. A sweet smell pervades the air. But when the smell turns into a disgusting stink, it turns out Tim’s dad wasn’t so crazy after all. And Tim might just become a hero after all.
My advice: try not to judge this book by its cover. It may appeal to stink-obsessed nine-year-old boys, but its audience should be much broader than that. Here is a vivid, richly-imagined treat for all to enjoy.