Review posted June 1, 2013.
Chronicle Books, San Francisco. 245 pages.
Earthling! is a children's graphic novel that's a lot of fun. Bud and his father move to a new home next to his father's new job at the Von Lunar Telescope Lab. The next morning, Bud gets on the wrong bus -- and ends up on a bus to Cosmos Academy, the best in the galaxy. Fortunately, a friendly alien helps him out right at the start, and warns him not to tell anyone he's an earthling. Earthlings are feared and hated.
So Bud has all the challenges of fitting in at a new school where he is truly an alien from another planet. But at the same time, he must figure out how to get home. He has to learn how to play ZeroBall, make friends and be a team player -- in a very different environment. He must avoid suspension and expulsion -- because it would be suspension for eternity in molecular binding gel or being expelled into deep space to die.
The art in this book is excellent, and naturally the aliens are easy to tell apart. (Though come to think of it, the bullies look a lot alike. Is that species prejudice?) The story is fun, with Earthlings clearly seen through a distorted lens. The plot is engaging -- Bud just wants to get home, but there are many paths he must take to try to get there. The pages are bright, colorful, and action-packed. This is one book that will be easy to put into kids' hands.