Akiko on the Planet Smoo was first created as a comic book and teaching tool, but with plenty of spit and polish, Mark Crilley's flights of fancy have been transformed into a light, illustrated adventure novel in the topsy-turvy tradition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Ten-year-old Akiko is embroiled in typical fourth-grade trials and tribulations when she gets a strange, silvery letter in the mail. The letter instructs her to be ready at 8:00 that night (with her toothbrush), but she is anything but prepared when a goofy-looking spaceship hovers outside her 17th-story apartment window and takes her to the planet Smoo.|
Akiko soon learns from the spaceship's crew that she--of all humans on earth--has been chosen to rescue Prince Froptoppit from an evil, misguided kidnapper. Though she tries to persuade the King, Bip, and Bop that they have the wrong girl (she doesn't even want to be the leader of the girls' safety patrol at school), the friendly trio seems to think she'd be perfect for the job anyway. The quest is not easy. Akiko and a curious, old-fashioned cast of characters (including the scholarly Mr. Beeba; the warbly, incomprehensible Poog; the swashbuckling Spuckler; and Spuckler's rusty robot, Gax) encounter the dreaded Sky Pirates and later, engage in cartoonish, gladiator-style fights with robots and fire-breathing Jaggasaurs. And just like Dorothy in Oz, Akiko finds her courage and faces up to the Jaggasaur, shouting, "You should be ashamed of yourself! Who do you think you are, bullying a scrawny little man like that? Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" Young readers may learn that they have more courage than they think. The adventure ends happily, but the book draws to a close before Prince Froptoppit can be rescued. Stay tuned for continuing adventures? (Ages 8 to 12).
Source: Karin Snelson, Amazon.com.