The Area 51 Files

Delacorte. Sept. 2022. 304p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593429464.
Gr 5 Up–A lighthearted mystery (with delightful illustrations) about accepting everyone just as they are. Priya “Sky” Patel-Baum is an orphan, and when her grandmother has to go to an assisted living facility, the 12-year-old ends up being sent to live with an uncle she has never met. It turns out he lives in Area 51, a top secret military base that is so classified not even the president knows its true purpose. (Rule #1: What happens in Area 51 stays in Area 51). Not only does she discover that there are aliens in Area 51, but they start to disappear when she arrives. Is it a coincidence? Sky, who is Indian and white, meets unimaginably strange beings, such as the Audiotooters, who fart out of their ears and release a delightful whiff of roses. Drones that deliver pizza and secret hatches that lead to tunnels in the living room floor are just a few of the things Sky discovers as she and her friends try to solve the mystery of the disappearing aliens. The school bully turns out to be one of her partners in crime as she and Elvis the alien work to uncover the mystery and clear her uncle’s reputation. Readers who like their science fiction with a touch of humor, such as Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life On Earth, will enjoy these sci-fic high jinks.
VERDICT A solid purchase for libraries building their collection of middle grade science fiction.

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