written by Gene Luen Yang
Thaddeus—genius and future President of Earth—is convinced that there is something wrong with his baby sister. After all, she only babbles in prime numbers. But his parents won’t listen to him because they mistakenly think he is an ordinary eight-year-old. All that will change when the aliens arrive, Thaddeus is sure. And it turns out that he is right, though not in the way he had expected.
Yang allows himself to embrace his snarky side in this short comic-strip story. Thaddeus is very smart for an eight-year-old—and convinced that he’s even smarter than that—so readers who like a sarcastic touch will appreciate lines such as “My folks call her an ‘unexpected blessing.’ Please. If it walks like an accident and talks like an accident, let’s just call it an accident, all right?” But all is not snark. The aliens are actually do-gooders who come in peace to host sing-alongs and knit socks, something that Thaddeus is not entirely on board with. It’s a measure of Yang’s skills as a creator that he manages to write a thoughtful story without slipping too deep into “message” territory. The ending is not the rousing finale one might want, but readers will still appreciate the journey.
The sly touches found in the writing continue in the art. For example, the alien slug creatures wear salt shakers around their necks, a subtle reference to Yang’s Christianity and the wearing of crosses—originally instruments of torture and murder. Thaddeus has just the right devious look on his face for the future ruler of everyone and his parents have the long suffering attitudes often worn by parents of overly intelligent children. Each comic strip is printed on its own page, so the book is thin and it has the long, low shape of other comic strip collections, such as Garfield. Though its smaller size might make it harder to shelve, the eye-catching cover and small page count should attract readers. There is no content to keep this out of the children’s section, but the humor will be best understood by readers old enough to grasp sarcasm. Give this to fans of Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks or I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb and be sure to include the humorous Discussion Guide.-- Snow Wildsmith