How many books do you know that begin with a two-page spread of one word? In this case, it's a resounding KARUMMP! as QPootle5's spaceship crashes to earth. Flip back to the frontispiece and the title page, and you'll see evidence of the spaceship careening toward this crash with a long ScreeeÉ that goes on and on. What, you may ask, is a QPootle5? He's none other than a roly-poly creature from outer space, cute as a button and the star of Nick Butterworth's latest book. If you want to introduce your youngster to the concept of aliens, here is a purely fun, non-threatening way to do so, since QPootle5 appears more closely related to Casper the Friendly Ghost than to any of the Darth Vader gang.

Despite his friendliness, QPootle5 is in a pickle. He needs a new rocket booster so he can make his way to the moon, to a party for his friend, QPootle6. He confers with several earthlings who happen on the scene, namely, a frog, some birds and a cat. The cat soon comes to the rescue by handing over the leftover can from his cat food, which QPootle5 manages to fashion into the needed spaceship part.

The next big question is, will the can contraption work? Butterworth stretches out the suspense for several pages, culminating in a blastoff scene plus a giant foldout illustration of QPootle5 partying it up with his friends on the moon. It's an illustration chock full of energy and joy, a regular bacchanalian feast, with all sorts of aliens munching on moon cheese balls, UFO cake, rocket jelly, star biscuits and more.

Butterworth is one of those rare talents who can make storytelling and even drawing look deceptively simple. While his plot is straightforward enough to appeal to three- and four-year-olds, a slightly older crowd five- to seven-year-olds will be drawn to the alien theme by Butterworth's purely lovable beings from outer space. Take a closer look, though, and Butterworth manages to touch on any number of important themes: the importance of helping those in need; the usefulness of resourceful, creative problem-solving; the magic of newfound friendship; and the lure of exotic places that beg to be explored. No doubt plenty of little readers will beg to join QPootle5 and his moon party night after night.

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