written by Scott Christian Sava
illustrated by Diego Jourdan
Ed is an average little boy: He likes reading comics, and he gets tongue-tied when his teacher asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. Then one night, as he is reading comics by flashlight under his covers, three friendly extraterrestrials crash-land in his backyard and take over his treehouse.
The three aliens, Marcello, Al, and Gus, are on the run from their would-be masters, who forced the aliens to work as slaves at the Intergalactic Food Court. The trio hijacked a spaceship and ran, with an enemy ship in hot pursuit, until they were winged and forced to land on earth. Now they are bringing their friends over and looking to Ed for advice on what they can do here on earth. This forces Ed to do some serious thinking, and of course it makes him realize that he could do lots of worthwhile things as well.
A tale like this wouldn’t be complete without a villain, and in this case, it’s Maximus Obliterus, an alien in a huge robot suit who is determined to get the aliens back to the food court. He teams up with Ed’s super-rich, super-selfish classmate Natalie, and the two track down the aliens, but thanks to a combination of quick thinking and some mad hairdressing skills, they distract Maximus and escape.
This graphic novel really lends itself to reading aloud. The goofy aliens provide a lot of scope for silly voices, and the story involves a lot of wrong guesses and unlikely statements that will have kids giggling. The character designs for the monsters are more wacky than scary, including a giant purple slug that looks and talks just like Elvis. Jourdan’s art is bold and colorful, and the layouts are fairly simple. The art does look like it was produced on a computer, but that’s not likely to bother the target demographic.
Sava’s story is imaginative, with a few unexpected twists, and it touches on a lot of themes that children may be thinking about in the early grades: What they want to do when they grow up, how different people choose niches that fit their talents, even questions of slavery and free will. Everything is handled with a light touch and plenty of humor, though.
With its over-the-top characters and lively story, Ed’s Terrestrials is a natural choice for grownups to read aloud to kids—or for kids to read aloud to the grownups.