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Sphdz Book #2!


Sphdz Book #2!

written by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

Fifth-grader Michael K.'s quest to save Earth from being "turned off" (losing television, radio and the Internet) continues in another zany and unique book filled with striking illustrations and interspersed with the woeful tales of Agent Umber. The blundering Umber is part of the AAA (Anti-Alien Agency) and manages to be both pitiable and endearing as he strives to uncover space invaders among us.

Michael K. now has help, since he can't resist telling his fellow students, Venus and TJ, about the aliens masquerading as students (the advertisement-jingle-spouting Bob and Jennifer, and their cohort hamster, Major Fluffy). Naturally enough, Venus and TJ are skeptical at first. Venus, claiming to be a scientist, demands proof. But as Michael K. ponders the impossibility of proving what he knows to be fact, one of the playground pranksters lobs a blob of blueberry yogurt that lands on Jennifer's shoe. What happens then persuades Venus and TJ that they are indeed dealing with aliens.

They're not the only ones to notice the significant electric event that occurred as a result of the blue blob on Jennifer's shoe. AAA agent Hot Magenta has picked it up on her monitors. She lets the Chief know, hoping to be assigned to investigate. But to her chagrin, the case is passed to the incredibly inept Agent Umber.

Umber is on the case! Which means he can leave his current job (which involves being dressed as a giant chicken to advertise for a fast food restaurant). Now he can Save the World…or at least try to in his own unforgettable fashion, involving bad judgment and the weirdest possible disguises.

Meanwhile, Michael K. and his friends must pick their "Big Buddies" project. Michael K. chooses the one that seems like it will be the easiest: "Kindergarten Play." Alas, this does not mean "play with the tiny students in kindergarten." No, it actually means "help put on the kindergarten class's play," which is scheduled for the parent-student-teacher meeting the next evening. While Jennifer and Bob spout more advertising slogans, they are all assigned by the kindergarten teacher to play parts in "Red Riding Hood." Jennifer is delighted to be Granny, and Bob is ecstatic about playing a Woodland Creature, but Michael K. is not thrilled to have to dress up like the Big Bad Wolf.

He knows that an AAA agent is close on his heels. How will they manage to get millions of new Spaceheadz, hide out from the agent, and fulfill their Big Buddies obligations? Could Earth be doomed after all, in spite of his best intentions? His worries are amped up when he gets some terrible news: they need to gather their total of 3.4 million and one Spaceheadz in one hour. Around this time, Venus uses some mathematical formulas to relieve Michael K.'s panic attack --- while also explaining (at least partly) the zaniness of Jennifer and Bob. After the most unforgettable kindergarten play ever, the story concludes with quite the intriguing scene starring the AAA chief.

Readers who enjoy off-the-wall humor, including bumbling agents with slapstick moves, hilarious illustrations, and ticking-clock, save-the-world plots, will love this second entry in Jon Scieszka’s unique science fiction series.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on September 20, 2011

Sphdz Book #2!
written by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

  • Publication Date: September 20, 2011
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416979549
  • ISBN-13: 9781416979548