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Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by…

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

by Frank Cottrell Boyce

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1037180,227 (4.14)15
The Blythes are a big, warm, rambunctious family who live on a small farm and sometimes foster children. Now Prez has come to live with them. But, though he seems cheerful and helpful, he never says a word. Then one day Prez answers the door to someone claiming to be his relative. This small, loud stranger carries a backpack, walks with a swagger and goes by the name of Sputnik. As Prez dithers on the doorstep, Sputnik strolls right past him and introduces himself to everyone in the household. Prez is amazed at the response. The family pat Sputnik on the head, call him a good boy and drop food into his mouth. It seems they all think Sputnik is a dog. It's only Prez who thinks otherwise. But Prez soon finds himself having to defend the family from the chaos and danger unleashed by Sputnik, as household items come to life - like a TV remote that fast-forwards people: 'Anyone can do it, it's just that people don't read the instructions properly'; and a toy lightsaber that entertains guests at a children's party, until one of them is nearly decapitated by it -- and Prez is going to have to use his voice to explain himself.… (more)



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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This was a clever and touching story of a boy, Prez, who is singled out by an alien, Sputnik, after having to go and live with a foster family. He sees and hears a very different person when he interacts with Sputnik than everyone else who only sees a dog and only hears barking. It's clever and unique. Sputnik has a mission and he needs Prez to help him make a list of ten reasons why the Earth is worth saving in order to prevent the earth from being destroyed. ( )
  DebbiePotter | Jul 20, 2019 |
This is a fun and entertaining story, altogether original. It centers around a young person, Prez, who's been separated from his grandfather because his grandfather can no longer care for him. He finds himself on a temporary stay with a farming family in the country, where, one night, an unusual visitor shows up at the door ... Sputnik, who, as far as Prez is concerned, is a somewhat unusual kid, but everyone else seems to mistake Sputnik for a dog. Sputnik, it turns out, is here on a mission, to discover 10 things about Earth that make our planet worth saving. This book really kept me turning pages, wanting to know how it turned out.
  Cynthia_Parkhill | Jun 9, 2019 |
Prez and his granddad, residents of Dumfries, are inseparable—Granddad tells tales of sailing the seven seas with criminals and kings, and Prez keeps Granddad from getting too mixed up. But one day, Granddad is taken away and Prez is sent to live with a foster family, the Blythes, on their farm in the country. Then the Blythes receive another guest. Prez sees him as a wee man in a space helmet, flying goggles, and kilt, and the rest of the family see him as a dog. Either way, Sputnik — as he styles himself — is here to look out for Prez and to find out the Ten Things Worth Doing on Earth. Along the way, chaotic adventures ensue, particularly when Sputnik starts reading the manual!

I listened to the audiobook narrated by the always-excellent Peter Capaldi, aka the Twelfth Doctor, and he does a fantastic job. I especially loved his Granddad voice and the portrayal of Sputnik, who seems a bit Time Lord-y in his outlook toward humans and general capacity for Earth-based mayhem. Having a proper Scottish person reading a book set in Scotland adds so much more to the atmosphere, too, and teaches this non-Scot how to pronounce some things like dreich (dreek) and stramash (the stress is on MASH), as well as the place names.

The story is hilarious. I was listening to this mostly on planes and trains while in Scotland and kept smirking to myself at amusing turns of phrase or when the outcome of the latest adventure was made apparent. And at the same time it’s a thoughtful, sensitive portrayal of a child looking after an elderly relative with dementia. There were a few moments of strategic hiding behind sunglasses or magazines while I blinked back tears. It was partly the fact that Prez, at age 10, shouldn’t have had to have that burden by himself, but if you’ve had a relative with dementia, there’s a lot here that will hit home.

I rate this 4 stars for the story itself with a bonus star for Peter’s narration. I had a lot of fun with this and hope to re-read it sometime. ( )
1 vote rabbitprincess | Oct 8, 2018 |
Prez Mellows is cast into foster care when his only relative, his beloved grandfather, an old retired sailor, develops Alzheimer's and can no longer care for the boy. He is sent for the summer to live with a farming family who takes in a foster child every summer, temporarily. Prez does not talk. He can talk, he just chooses not to. His world is turned upside down when a slightly insane alien named Sputnik shows up at the farm the same day he does. Sputnik claims that he has a mission to take care of Prez, and also that the Earth will be destroyed in in the Autumn unless he can come up with ten good reasons to spare it. And no buildings. Buildings are boring. And just to make the summer even more confusing, although Sputnik can read Prez's mind, making communication easy even though Prez doesn't talk... nobody but Prez sees that Sputnik is a brilliant, insane and possibly dangerous alien... everyone else thinks he is a dog.

Three quarters of the book are the adventures Prez has with this bizarre being from another world who defies not only the laws of Scotland, but quite frequently the laws of physics as well. It is a bizarre tale. If you love strangeness for strangeness' sake with a healthy dash of humor, this book is for you. For me, most of the book fell into the category of, "good enough I want to finish it, but not to my taste enough that I sort of piddled my way through it slowly."

Until the last 50 pages or so. Those pages made up for the rest of it, making me give it four stars instead of two or three. In spite of the lunacy of the story, it was a very human book with a heart, a point, and an extremely satisfying ending. ( )
  fingerpost | Feb 26, 2018 |
I'm surprised by the darkness in what I thought would be a fairly lighthearted tale of an alien (most everyone thinks he is a dog) who is trying to find 10 great things about Earth. The young protagonist is spending the summer with a family on their farm, but he has come from an orphanage he was placed in when his grandfather developed Alzheimer's . ( )
  dcoward | Jan 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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