Kristin's Reviews > The True Meaning of Smekday

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
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May 07, 12

bookshelves: humor, kids, philosophy, read-in-2012, reader-s-advisory, sci-fi
Read in May, 2012

Seems like this was intended to be the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for kids. Lots of strange and subtle humor (often not delivered in a manner in which children will understand). While the humor is there and even succeeds occasionally, this book is in fact a pretty dark commentary about imperialism and the negative effects of colonialism. What's the true meaning of Smekday? Perhaps the better question is, What's the true meaning of any holiday celebrated at the expense of another culture or nation? I doubt the indigenous people of the Americas look very kindly on Columbus Day. This sort of heavy handed stuff is masked pretty well by absurdity and nonsense, but it permeates the book. Probably not something a child would really understand. It seems more like a book about a child written for adults.

This author also throws in a smattering of insults at the hollow nature of consumerism, interspersed with random snipes at the entertainment industry. He particularly dislikes Disney World. While I would tend to agree with all of the opinions and criticism expressed by Adam Rex, I don't think children will care about these issues as 7th-graders. I'm pretty sure things like the Indian Removal Act aren't even covered in school until like 9th grade. You can do a children's book about heavy issues if it's done right, i.e. anything by Dr. Seuss, The View from Saturday, etc. This isn't that book. Occasional jokes jarred me out of my reading coma, but for the most part I drifted in and out.

Also, while you are meant to see how racism can justify subjugating other cultures, the author slams the invading aliens pretty hard, resorting to a typical dumb foreigner setup for the Boov and the Gorg. While they are mirrors of the U.S. or any other country guilty of imperialism, it doesn't help to subvert your paradigm by viewing said foreigners as foolish imbeciles. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this. After a while all of the obvious references to serious issues started to muddle my perception of everything else going on in this book.
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