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  • 2012 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award

    Earth to Clunk written by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Joe Berger, and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011.

    Earth to ClunkOur narrator has an unwanted pen pal—Clunk, from the planet Quazar. In an attempt to punish Clunk for having a pen pal from Earth, the young boy sends him all of the awful things he can think of: dirty socks, old lasagna, a scary picture, and his big sister. But Clunk has been sending him stuff too: a Zoid, three Forps, and a surprisingly tasty glob. Will the two be able to find friendship? Berger's pen, pencil, and ink illustrations, digitally colored, illuminate the dead-pan humor of Smallcomb's amusing, imaginative story.

    Students, ages six to nine, loved this "out of this world" book, some saying that it was their favorite read aloud. Children laughed, had interested facial expressions, bounced with anticipation, pointed to something in the book, repeated phrases, clapped, and chose to look at the book after the reading, wanting more. They liked the mystery behind Clunk and were fascinated by the Zoid, especially loving the page where the Zoid burps. Teachers used the book to make connections to pen pals and concrete poetry, as the text is often purposefully shaped in "stair" formations.

    Pam Smallcomb lives in rural Maryland, while Joe Berger resides in Bristol, England. BRITTANY LAZUR