cover image Ambassador


William Alexander. S&S/McElderry, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-9764-1

The Envoy doesn’t exactly rank as charismatic megafauna. It’s an amorphous purple blob who’s been stuck on the moon for a few decades and is now on Earth and stalking Gabe Fuentes. Why? Earth needs an ambassador to “everyone else,” and the Envoy believes Gabe is the perfect 11-year-old for the job, despite some reservations about his age: “The previous ambassador was younger.” Gabe accepts the job with little ado, and the Envoy “entangles” him in a form of interstellar transport that manifests in Gabe’s dreams. The alien-adventure part of National Book Award–winner Alexander’s (Goblin Secrets) first SF story is played for gentle humor: Gabe is a good observer and a willing scapegoat for friends and family alike when trouble brews, and diplomacy and ridiculousness are effective tests of those traits. Less lighthearted is the plight of Gabe’s parents, who are undocumented immigrants—aliens of an altogether different variety. The topical real-world plot sits uneasily with the galactic Dr. Who shenanigans in a story that feels too short to adequately address either. A sequel is planned. Ages 8–12. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Sept.)