cover image Blast Off!

Blast Off!

Nate Ball, illus. by Macky Pamintuan. Harper, $15.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-231491-8

Ball, host of PBS's Design Squad Nation, proves that his know-how extends beyond science and engineering in this playful first book in the Alien in My Pocket series. After a spaceship crashes in Zack's bedroom, Amp, a tiny blue alien, emerges and announces that his planet plans to invade Earth. Amp is horrified at how large earthlings are ("This is an intergalactic snafu of epic proportions!"), and he asks Zack to help fix his spaceship so he can return home to call off the attack. Stowing away in Zack's backpack, the alien creates a stir at school as he demonstrates his power to alter people's behavior and upends the science lab while searching for materials to fix his ship. Ball slyly slips science into the plot, which culminates in the kids building a bottle rocket to launch Amp's spacecraft (bottle rocket instructions are included). With its screwball comedy and lively dialogue, the novel gives readers the opportunity to laugh as they learn. The Science Unfair pubs simultaneously. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 6%E2%80%9310. Author's agent: Linda Loewenthal, David Black Agency. (Jan.)