Space Alien at Planet Dad by Lucinda Gifford

Space Alien at Planet Dad a boy in a space suit stands on an alien planet while a space ship comes in to landA review by Nalini Haynes

Space Alien at Planet Dad is a picture book for young children.

Every Saturday Jake visits Planet Dad where Dad is awesome and they do awesome things together, until one day a Space Alien invades Jake’s space.

This is a cute book with an engaging story and colourful drawings for kids whose parents have separated and are introducing new partners to their kids, or perhaps introducing new step-siblings. However, this story is bound to contribute to conflict and stereotypes around the old trope ‘Dad has weekend access with all the fun while Mum makes kids clean their rooms and do their homework’. Also, the Space Alien draws awesome rockets and knows a lot of stuff about space. No pressure. LOL.

The best part is that Jake and the Space Alien develop a relationship of their own, based on mutual understanding, the Space Alien looking after Jake and then sharing his interests.

Space Alien at Planet Dad presents difficulty for readers. Children of an age to read picture books will find the ‘normal’ text a bit small although the font is excellent. However, the emphasised words are part of drawings with backgrounds, often depicted as part of the pictures. I (as a vision impaired reader) found I was looking for the text that connects the narrative, looking around the page to then figure out where the missing words were. Not only are these missing words rather large for readers (although commonly used words that children should recognised from speech) but they’ll be difficult for learning readers to decipher due to the fonts and backgrounds. This is a story to be read to children not for young children to read by themselves.

Overall, Space Alien At Planet Dad is an engaging story to help parents and children approach a difficult life change by reading and discussing it together. It is “Recommended, 2017 Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature for Picture Book and Younger Readers”. Other books for children that discuss social issues are Cyclone about the cyclone that destroyed Darwin in 1975 and Pocket Dogs, which is about adjusting to a new family member.

Lucinda Gifford is an Australian author and artist.

This was a book sent to me for review.