Zoomer's Out-of-This-World Christmas appears to be Ned Young's third book about Zoomer, but it's the first one that I've run across. Zoomer is a young dog, preparing for Christmas with his two brothers. While on the lookout for Santa, the brothers are surprised to discover that a spaceship has landed in their backyard. The alien family that comes from the ship is friendly (and surprisingly humanoid). Adventures ensue, followed by a sacrifice made by Zoomer on behalf of his new friends.
I'm not sure that I am completely on board with the end of this book, in which Zoomer is rewarded by Santa for his sacrifice. Does this suggest that we should do good things only in the hope of someone noticing and quietly rewarding us later? Perhaps there is truth in that, but it's not my first choice for a Christmas message. Still, it does make for a festive ending to the book.
Ending aside, it is a fun book. Young includes a few nonsense words, like this:
"... And out stepped a family from outer space, their robot, and their pet--a yarple-headed gigantaziller."
"They feasted on kookaloon sandwiches, zablookee salad, and blopwapple pie and washed it all down with some zoinkinfizz soda. Everything was out-of-this-world delicious."
And yet, despite the innate ridiculousness of the whole thing (from the pups living with their parents in a gabled house, as though they were regular children to the aliens somehow managing to eat pie through their space suits), Young presents everything in straight up fashion. Apart from the aforementioned nonsense words, the text is relatively staightforward.
The real playfulness comes via the illustrations. The aliens and their gadgets are brightly colored and detailed, with a vaguely Seussian flair. The gigantaziller is a friendly blending of giant caterpillar and butterfly, with several shoe-clad feet. There is a force-field swimming pool that makes for interesting visuals, too. The pictures are highly dynamic, and certainly kid-friendly. There are plenty of details to reward repeated viewings.
All in all, Zoomer's Out-of-This-World Christmas is an unconventional holiday-themed book, merging sled-riding dogs, humanoid aliens, and Santa Claus into one colorful, snow-covered mashup. For those looking for something to mix things up a bit, and especially for kids who are fascinated by aliens, this one is worth a look.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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