________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 14 . . . . March 13, 1998

cover Aliens in the Basement.

Susan Reid. Illustrated by Susan Gardos.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic, 1997.
83 pp., paper, $4.50.
ISBN 0-590-12392-9.

Grades 1 - 4 / Ages 6 - 9.
Review by Noreen Paterson.

*** /4


Jaime frowned at him. "Have you ever seen a rabbit with claws like this?"

"Claws?" asked Matt.

"Claws. Check it out."

Matt stepped closer to the large glass jar and peered inside. He jumped back in surprise. "I think it just waved at me."

The heard the strange, crackling voice again. Then they heard Mr. Turkle's voice.

Matt glanced back at the thing in the glass bottle. There it went again. "That thing is waving at me..." he whispered.

Jaime was too busy listening to the voices to hear him. "If I could only figure out what they're saying..." Then her eyes widened. "What if it's an alien language?" she gasped. She shook her hands in the air. "The things in these bottles could be little aliens!"

image Aliens in the Basement is a humorous story about two children, Matt and Jaime, who have an overactive imaginations. Mr. Turkle, their school janitor, has the reputation for being scary. He reportedly has a fridge containing all of the school's lost lunches and a dungeon behind his office where all the bad kids are sent after school. When Matt's teacher sends him to ask Mr. Turkle for a broom, Matt isn't exactly thrilled about the task, but his friend, Jaime, slips out of class to accompany him to Mr. Turkle's basement office.

      While in the basement, the pair hear strange voices coming from Mr. Turkle's office and are certain that the voices are those of aliens. Later, the duo sneak down and find jars with strange beings in them. The friends become convinced that the school is being taken over by aliens, and they are determined to find out what is going on. Ordinary everyday happenings, however, suddenly become suspicious and weird. The twosome even conclude that their teacher is trying to communicate with someone when she taps her pencil.

      When Matt and Jaime spot Mr. Turkle down town one day, they decide to follow him. The pair get quite a start when Mr. Turkle suddenly turns the tables on them, a situation which only makes the children more determined to discover the truth.

      The reality, of course, turns out to be much different from what Matt and Jaime had imagined, and they have a good laugh when they find out that the alien voices in the basement were really from a tape recording Mr. Turkle was using to learn Spanish for his visit to Mexico while the alien creatures in the jars were just part of a collection of animal specimens kept in the basement.

      Gardos's black and white illustrations contribute to readers' initially perceiving Mr. Turkle as a scary, grumpy old man.


Noreen Paterson is a librarian at the Crystal City Elementary School, Crystal City, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364