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Akiko on the Planet Smoo
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About the Author

Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Mich. After graduating from Kalamazoo College in 1988, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English to students of all ages for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan in 1992 that he created Akiko and the story of her journey to Smoo.

Reviews

Gr 3-5-Soon after 10-year-old Akiko receives a mysterious letter, a spaceship convertible piloted by two friendly aliens arrives with a robot replica of her to take her place on Earth. They explain that she has been summoned to the planet Smoo to rescue King Froptoppit's kidnapped son. That the girl has no experience in rescuing people doesn't faze the monarch at all; he is sure she's the right person for the job. Assisting Akiko on this mission are the scholarly but clueless Mr. Beeba; Poog, a floating head who communicates good advice in high-pitched noises; Spuckler Boach, a good-natured space cowboy with a penchant for seeking out trouble; and Gax, Spuckler's trusty robot. When they are captured by space pirates, Akiko takes charge. At the end, the rescuers fly off into the stars to continue their unfinished mission. Crilley originally wrote Akiko as a serialized adventure, and it shows; each chapter ends with a cliff-hanger. In fact, the book, too, ends this way, and readers are left wondering what happens next, as the story seems more like a setup for a sequel than an entity unto itself. The leadership theme is occasionally overdone, but this doesn't detract from the story's humor. Black-and-white cartoons illustrate this chapter book.-Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"[A] stylish debut." -- Publishers Weekly

"The action is fast-paced and nicely illustrated...and Crilley's easy-reading, conversational style is appealing." -- Booklist

In this stylish debut, aliens from the Planet Smoo summon an Earth girl to find a kidnapped prince. Fourth-grader Akiko admits she has no experience as a rescuer: "I'm only ten years old... I don't have many years of anything." Nevertheless, Smoo's humanoid King Froptoppit insists that she help him to retrieve the prince from "an evil, misguided" Alia Rellapor. As exasperated yet compliant as Alice at the Mad Tea Party, Akiko agrees to lead the mission. The novel gets off to a rollicking start as she meets her teammates, among them a Han Solo-like spaceship pilot and a being called Poog, "a floating head... covered by pale purple-white skin that shimmered like smooth leather." Crilley gives Akiko a conversational voice and global flair. With her chunky pigtails and oversize eyes, the character looks like a cross between an anime character and a Raggedy Ann doll; her comical cyborg sidekicks recall sources as varied as Douglas Adams and Tintin author Herge. The rescuers spend the rest of the book battling and escaping a ruthless band of Sky Pirates and never even glimpse Alia Rellapor. After a dramatic buildup, Crilley leaves his well-drawn characters idling in outer space, awaiting the sequel. Those who prefer closure may be disappointed, but everyone else will likely stay on to complete the ride. All ages. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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