By Author / Illustrator
Chicken House Ltd
Paperback / softback
Mylo knows there's no such thing as Martians - at least, until a flying saucer crash-lands next to his family's New Mexico farm. And then he starts to hear the voice, like someone's trying to communicate with him, asking for help. Desperate to be as brave as his older brother Obie - who passed away over a year ago - Mylo has to investigate the crash. Along the way, he ends up discovering more about the universe than he ever could have imagined.
This book is set in 1947 in New Mexico and relates to the Roswell UFO incident; there are references throughout the book to specific aspects of the times, for example listening to Superman on the radio and reading about Martians in comics. Some of these may require explanation to the modern-day child. The story is told by Mylo, a young boy who is still grieving for his older brother who died the previous year; his response to this and the analysis of his resulting feelings are recurring themes throughout the book which provides a very personal and emotional aspect within the science fiction setting. He spends much time with his best friend Dibs and so there is a further analysis of personal loss by considering Dibs's home life, where his mother disappeared some years before, resulting in his father becoming an alcoholic and abusive. As a result, he spends much time living with Mylo's family for security and comfort. Mylo accepts Dibs for who he is and helps him to come to terms with his situation and so presents a strong element of empathy, which may help young readers to understand the effects of violence and personal grief. This also leads to Mylo questioning the role of God and his own faith. Mylo and his two friends Dibs and Gracie visit the site of a UFO crash where they believe Martians have landed. This then leads to them having a number of adventures in order to help alien life and develops to consider both their reactions and the responses of others to this 'exciting' event and the need to help others. The book therefore focuses on friendship, love and the need for family and friends' support whilst openly addressing different aspects of loss. The book uses simple vocabulary and short chapters (with humorous titles) so is easily accessible to children, but some of the issues addressed indicates that it would benefit from adult support whilst reading. 336 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Salliann Coleman, consultant.
Suggested Reading Age 9+