Aliens, dinosaurs, and friendship? This book has it all!
Jeff, an alien, crash-lands on Earth, and meets dinosaurs Carl, Hungry, and Spike. He immediately uses a fancy translator and informs them that he is there to take over the world and would like to be taken to their leader. While the dinosaurs are trying to determine who their leader is, Jeff realizes that he’s landed on a young planet, and he starts complaining about how unintelligent and primitive the creatures of Earth are. Despite Jeff’s bad attitude, they still agree to take him to their leader, who they’ve decided is someone named Trevor.
They take the scenic route to find Trevor, because Carl wants Jeff to truly appreciate the planet he intends to take over. Jeff is uninterested in the beautiful scenery, and treats the dinosaurs rudely. However, the dinosaurs treat each other and Jeff with respect and kindness. When Jeff is in danger, Carl wants to go save him from probable doom, but Hungry questions why they should save someone who’s been mean to them. They leave the decision up to Spike who expresses that he wants to go after Jeff. Later, when Carl is eaten by a salamander. Hungry jumps into action, and Jeff refuses to help him, insisting that he can’t risk his life and the mission. Hungry thinks quickly and successfully saves Carl.
Now Hungry is mad at Jeff and says that he won’t be helping him anymore. Carl tells Jeff that he forgives him and encourages Hungry to do the same. Hungry says he won’t forgive him, but he will keep his word about helping him find Trevor. Eventually, when they find Trevor and he’s not what Jeff expected, Jeff has too much and starts crying and yelling about how stupid everyone on Earth is and how awful it is that he landed there of all places. After calming down, he confesses that he was badly bullied and had hoped conquering a planet would make him popular and get him friends. Another dinosaur character explains to him that, on Earth, to make friends you simply need to be kind, caring, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. One last catastrophe gives Jeff the opportunity to help and show the dinosaur trio that he’s learned.
Jurassic Jeff: Space Invader is written exceptionally well. The storyline is fast-paced, action-packed, and engaging. It has a comfortable balance between drama and humor. All of the main characters have depth and emotional and social growth. I loved watching Jeff work through his conflicting feelings and figuring out his priorities. The author addresses friendship beautifully, displaying the different ways the characters handle and work through issues. I found it incredibly empowering when Carl did not push Hungry to forgive Jeff. Hungry was allowed to say, “No.”
Visually, the pages are filled with motion. The movement is displayed not only with lines showing direction, but also with small background items being positioned in such a way that the art doesn’t seem like a still image. For instance, water splashes in the air; grass drawn slanted, making it seem like wind is blowing; grass drawn between a dinosaur’s mouth and the ground, as if it is falling out of the dinosaur’s mouth. The line art makes everything appear clear and digestible. The colors are saturated, setting a fun tone.
This book will strongly appeal to children aged 6-10 who enjoy comedy, drama, and adventure.
Jurassic Jeff Space Invader, Vol. 1
By Royden Lepp
Penguin Random House Graphic, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)