cover image Alien Tomato

Alien Tomato

Kristen Schroeder, illus. by Mette Engell. Page Street Kids, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-6241-4976-4

In Schroeder’s debut, something red and round bounces into a garden, and the vegetables convince themselves that it’s an alien tomato. After some initial misgivings (“Will it zap us with lasers?” worries Reggie, a carrot), the vegetables embrace the newly christened “Allie” with wide-eyed enthusiasm; they explain away the alien’s silence (“It probably doesn’t speak our language”) and fete it with crumpets, tea, and a special crown. But there’s one naysayer in this bushel: a gopher, whose absolute certainty about Allie’s origins (“It can’t talk... because IT’S JUST... A RED BALL!”) is coupled with garden-variety resentment (“Nobody ever held a party for ME”). Digital vignettes by Engell (Matzah Belowstairs) have the bounce and drive of an animated cartoon sketch, capturing both the gopher’s frustration and an entire spectrum of goofy plant-based earnestness, from a worried broccoli to a trio of cooperative peas. But it turns out that the vegetables’ welcoming instincts are right; just when the gopher thinks he’s gotten them back, he gets a comeuppance that’s out of this world. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis. Illustrator’s agent: Alex Gehringer, Bright Agency. (July) [/em]