This fractured fairy tale version of “The boy who cried wolf” blends comic panels, aliens, and a boy with an amazing talent for lying.
Larry the Liar sees a pair of aliens crash land their ship in Malarkey Lake. Unfortunately, his past history of lying doesn’t incline anyone to believe this wild tale. In frenetic verse, the various townspeople make fun of his latest tall tale until the aliens show up in town spouting their strange gobbledygook. Happily, the aliens pull out their translator and Larry discovers that all they want is to collect a few large burps from a cow to fuel their machine – and compliment Larry on his lying abilities. Larry is praised by the whole town and opens the “Yeah School of Fabulous Fibbing.”
A lengthy note on how to translate the alien language and translations of the aliens’ longer speeches are included at the end of the book.
Brian Biggs’ illustrations are appropriately wacky and cartoonish. The story is arranged in a variety of cartoon panels, full-page spreads, captions, and speech balloons. Different colors and font styles indicate the difference between the various characters’ speeches. The aliens themselves are large green octopus-like creatures with yellow and blue polka dots. Larry is a naughty looking buck-toothed kid with glasses and freckles. All the various characters and settings are exaggerated and often slightly tilted with odd perspectives and silly details.
Picture books in comic format can be difficult to place in a library. Generally, they’re very difficult to read aloud, especially to groups, so they don’t do well as storytime selections. They’re best suited for individual reading, but kids and/or parents need to be able to navigate the panels easily. This book has a good layout and could be read easily by a parent or older child, but it’s very text heavy. Larry, the townspeople, and the aliens all have long rhyming speeches and the aliens’ weird coded language is difficult to decipher. This isn’t going to appeal to the average young child and parent, especially to parents who will be upset at the encouragement to spin tall tales and lie.
However, if you have a large number of 2nd and 3rd graders at your library who enjoy picture books, The Boy Who Cried Alien will be perfect for them. They’re old enough to enjoy the fractured fairy tale aspects and be able to work through the alien language but still young enough to like the outrageous silliness. If you have readers who will eagerly turn to the back to work out the aliens’ language and won’t be turned off by the long rhyming speeches, this would be a fun addition to the library shelves.