Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton

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Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A rollicking good story in rhyme with a message that we are all the same, no matter what we might look like, which will be a good book to share or for children to read on their own up to the age of about seven.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 1997
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 0744543940

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Auntie Irene buys good books. She used to be a teacher and has an instinct for what will interest children and make them laugh, or groan, or think. Her latest present to my grandchildren is "Here Come the Aliens!" by Colin McNaughton.

In outer space
It's black as night
And something's moving -
Speed of light -
Something looking for a fight

This isn't a book which panders to children. It's a little old for my granddaughter who's not quite two, but she squeals in delight at the pictures. Ben, who's all of 3½, appreciates the story, but Alex (5 last week) understands the story and the message behind it.

A fleet of spaceships heads this way
They're fifty zillion miles away,
But getting closer every day.
The aliens are coming.

The story's written in verse. Three lines rhyme and the fourth is the chorus of "The aliens are coming!" The story swings along and even the least-confident young reader will soon recognise the final line of each verse. The tension builds.

We're introduced to the admiral. He's a fearsome sort, we're told - a simple creature who only wants to fight. He looks pretty frightening too - green and warty - but has rather endearing rows of medals on his very grand jacket. And, yes, the aliens are coming.

They're coming from all over too. There's a picture of the planets in their universe. Some look strangely like things we know - a Christmas pudding, a football or a furry dice. One looks like a piece of cheese. Colin McNaughton trained as a graphic designer and the quality of the artwork in this book shines out. It reminds me of the comics of the nineteen sixties.

The languages the aliens speak are not ones we know. They don't speak English, or French or Greek. There's something in their language that we can recognise though. "Whish lads hadya gobs" says one (possibly with a nod to the author's Northumbrian background). Two more are having a conversation. "Oompah, oompah" says the first and "stik it oop ya joompah" is the response.

Their food looks awful, but their manners are worse. They slobber and dribble and gobble and munch. Some have two heads the better to offend us. The fleet looks frightening and unstoppable, but it is stopped and by a piece of paper.

Now I'm not going to tell you what's on that piece of paper, but there's a clear message that even quite young children will understand. However different people may look, or act, or speak their fears are the same as ours. Under the skin we're all much the same.

At 32 pages this is a good story for a parent to read and discuss with the child. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and there's a lot to talk about on every page. I've read it several times now and each time I've seen something new - the planet which resembles one of our dogs' toys or the alien who seems to have an elephant's trunk.

A young reader tackling this book on their own would probably find it enjoyable up to the age of about seven. There are words in the book which require concentration and possibly explanation. The fleet's first mate is gaseous and smelly. Another alien squeaks and squawks. The rhymes help the memory but there are lots of lovely big words in there to get the mind and tongue around. There are even phrases which will make adult readers smile - They've boldly been where we've not.

This book was written in 1995. Some momentous things have happened in the intervening years, but the message of this book still holds good. If anything it's even more important today. Things which seem strange can be quite familiar when you look at them closely and deep down we're all much the same, no matter how different we may seem on the surface. When I started reading the book to my grandchildren I did wonder if the subject of alien invasion was appropriate bedtime reading, but even sensitive and thoughtful Alex found it funny rather than frightening.

Colin McNaughton published his first book in 1976 and since then there have been more than sixty more. Some he has written and illustrated but he's perhaps best known as an illustrator. I've only seen "Here Come the Aliens!" but I think Alex, Ben and Olivia would like me to look out for a few more! We also have a review of Oomph! (Preston Pig) by Colin McNaughton. The are more aliens on their way!

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Buy Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton at


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