Planet Storyland by James Sherwood Metts

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Planet Storyland by James Sherwood Metts

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A charming story about aliens living in a better world, which will encourage critical thinking, creativity, and a love of storytelling.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 118 Date: April 2023
Publisher: Planet Storyland
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1736128428

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Things have been a bit sticky for the Earthlings. AI and automation have been proceeding apace, often replacing jobs they're paid to do and other tasks that took time to accomplish. Just as they were beginning to get used to all this technological change and starting to think of other, new ways to spend time, along came an awful pandemic. Life was pretty much shut down and, along with it, all the many daily social interactions on which they depend so heavily.

But not all the news is bad. On the morning of 12 October 2019, a young man calling himself Quentin Augustine walked into an observatory in Hawaii and explained that he came from a planet in a distant solar system called Gliese. Just like the scientists and all the other Earthlings, he had a family - Mum, Dad, a sister called Carmen. Just like them, his planet had libraries full of books in which people told stories, both real and imagined. And yet, he told them, Gliese is very different to Earth. There's no conflict, no war. Its constitution is intended to embody an appreciation of life and to ensure all its people follow their own passions and interests. The result is a culture full of love and creativity.

How has Gliese managed to achieve this? Planet Storyland tries to show us by following Quentin's story. An inquisitive child, his interest is piqued at the library one day by a book simply called Earthlings. It describes a Gliesian scientist's journey to and observation of Earth. Quentin is very taken with it and decides that he too, would like to undertake this journey, if only to tell the Earthlings that there's a better way to organise themselves than by constant fighting and allowing inequality. Quentin's mother is shocked and immediately says no to her son. But his father, who was equally taken by Earthlings when he read it as a boy, thinks that exploring this idea would be a better discouragement for Quentin.

And so the bulk of this charming story is a dialogue between son and father, as the older man teaches the boy about critical thinking and following through on ideas and their possible consequences rather than acting impulsively. It's not an awkward conversation but it has its difficult moments and Quentin gets a lot from it, although perhaps not always in the way his father intended.

Planet Storyland is, though, more than a story in which a father gently encourages his son into ways of thinking critically and analytically. It will inspire its middle grade readers into new perspectives: into looking at things from the way others might see them; into asking questions about things that interest them and into searching for answers themselves instead of relying on others to provide them; into the creativity that can flow from being curious about everything. There's an awful lot packed into its seventy pages for any reader who cares to look - parents as well as the children for whom this lovely book is intended. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Don't rely on the words of the few! And if you want to know what I mean by that, you'll have to read Planet Storyland for yourself!

Younger children might enjoy The Alien in the Garage and Other Stories by Rob Keeley.


You can read more about James Sherwood Metts here

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Buy Planet Storyland by James Sherwood Metts at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Planet Storyland by James Sherwood Metts at


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