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Sphdz Book #3!

Review

Sphdz Book #3!

written by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

Fifth grade can be hard enough with just the usual stuff, like math, history and making friends. But Michael K. has an even bigger challenge: he’s trying to help save the world!

Three Spaceheadz aliens named Bob, Jennifer and Major Fluffy have disguised themselves as fifth graders (and a hamster) and asked Michael K. for help. Along with two other humans/fifth graders named Venus and TJ, this ragtag group is collecting 3.14 million and one brainwaves to keep the planet from turning off. And they’ve almost reached their goal, which is an amazing accomplishment considering they’ve had to evade the determined agents of the Anti Alien Agency (AAA) who are out to get them. One agent in particular, a clumsy fellow named Agent Umber, has been very stubborn --- and has a new plan to trap the aliens.

Bob, Jennifer and Major Fluffy hear of an amazing concept of asking a jolly fellow with a long white beard and wearing a big red suit for anything they want. And then this fellow named Santa gives it to them! All the wonderful toys advertised on TV can be theirs just for the asking. So they get in line with all the other kids, preparing their wish lists for Santa.

Unfortunately, they don’t realize that Santa is really Agent Umber in disguise. In their excitement, they send a photo to Michael K., who happens to see Agent Umber/Santa in the background. Michael K. and Venus jump on their skateboard and bike to try and intercept the SPHDZ before they get caught. Fortunately, for our heroes, Agent Umber/Santa runs into an explosive (and really gross) situation of his own that distracts him just in time.

However, the SPHDZ meet their biggest challenge yet when they realize that their collected brainwaves are stolen. All of their hard work is taken right out from under them. And when they find out that the one responsible is actually an evil alien pretending to be on their side, Michael K. feels betrayed and decides to isolate himself from everyone. But then the SPHDZ find out the evil aliens’ plan to destroy all life on the planet and turn it into a giant parking lot, and Michael K. is the only one who can stop them.

The SPHDZ are hilarious, extremely entertaining and enormously unique. Three aliens disguised as fifth graders? Too funny! The entire set-up is distinctive, including the informal font, the slanted text, and the sometimes black text on white background/sometimes white text on black background. Who else would have an entire chapter of dialogue between two characters in which no human over the age of two could understand? There’s even a coded message for readers to crack. In addition, the detailed illustrations vividly express volumes and add lots of humor to the story.

But the book isn’t all just fun and games. There are lots of wonderful messages woven in, like the importance of friends, working together, saving the world, and having the ability to think for oneself. There are even pages defining networks, group intelligence and symbiosis as they pertain to the story.

To put it simply, Jon Scieszka and Shane Prigmore are comic geniuses. This series is tons of fun, and fans will be waiting impatiently for more SPHDZ.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on September 20, 2011

Sphdz Book #3!
written by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

  • Publication Date: April 3, 2012
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416979565
  • ISBN-13: 9781416979562