Alien Nate

Kids Can. Apr. 2020. 64p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781525302091.
Gr 2-4–Twenty-five years after NASA scientists accidentally leave a pizza on board Voyager 1, a ship from the Vega System finds the probe. The aliens, or Vegans, adore the pizza (which is still, inexplicably, tasty) and send Nate, a purple extraterrestrial with a bulbous head, to Earth in search of more. Nate crash-lands in the woods and is discovered by a boy named Fazel. The “Men in Beige” are hot on their trail, so Fazel disguises Nate using his father’s toupee, and no one—not his parents (too glued to their phone and TV screens) or his clueless teachers—is any the wiser. This narrative about a stranger in a strange land ultimately falls flat. Clichés abound, and many of Whamond’s jokes will go over kids’ heads, such as the jabs at veganism (“Why is he eating those weird little tablets?” “Oh, he’s a Vegan.” “Yeah, my aunt’s a vegan, too. They have really strict diets.”). Featuring exaggerated cartoon illustrations in a purple palette, the book makes some forced stabs at exploring what it’s like to feel different. Fazel tells Nate that he, too, felt like an alien when he “first came to this country,” but no other details of his origins are offered. And when Nate worries that the other students will notice he’s purple, Fazel reassures him that his classmates “come in all sorts of amazing colors”—an awkward attempt at celebrating diversity, especially considering that most of the students, apart from Fazel, appear to be white.
VERDICT A cheesy take on the typical clueless alien story.

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