How to be a Human

Karen McCombie

Wes drummed his fingers on his lap, tapped his foot on the floor and couldn’t stop grinning. This was THE most astounding thing that had ever happened to him in his entire, not-very-astounding life so far. He was sitting at the front of the top deck on a number 32 bus on the Fairfield bypass NEXT TO AN ALIEN.

Perfect for fans of Space Oddity and My Life as a Cat, this funny and heartfelt book celebrates friendship, family and the ordinary magic of everyday life.

An alien – The Star Boy – is marooned on Earth, awaiting rescue. From the safety of the boiler room of Fairfield Academy he watches humans- in particular Kiki and Wes.

Kiki has just been ‘unfriended’ by the toxic popular crew whilst Wes is a loner and a constant target for school bullies.

But soon studying them from afar isn’t enough and keen to uncover what it means to be a human, The Star Boy follows them into school and into their lives…

The Star Boy’s Earth ‘bucket list’ for his time on ‘terra firma’ is hilarious! Amongst other mundane activities, he longs to visit a discount carpet superstore! He shows extreme delight for things that seem unremarkable to Kiki and Wes (like the feel of a quality deep-pile floor covering between your toes) and makes them appreciate the little things in life.

Star Boy is so comfortable in his own ‘skin’ (details of morphing, invisibility sheilds etc in the story) and has no inhibitions – he is quite frankly an absolute scream! This is so refreshing for Kiki and Wes who both have their own hang-ups. They start to care less about what others think and concentrate on what they have been longing for all along; true friendship.

It’s not long before Wes and Kiki have become totally swept up in finding ways to keep Star Boy secret whilst helping him enjoy his time as an Earthling (and each other) But time is running out for their extra -terrestrial buddy and what does this mean for their friendship after he’s gone?

There’s so much pressure for kids to ‘fit in’ and follow the crowd and this book poses fantastic opportunities for discussion about the friendship dilemmas Kiki faces. As an adult reading the book, it’s so easy to see what the right and kind thing to do is, but as a young teenager, choosing to go against the sneery, highly influential popular crew, where you’re only a fail away from a cruel hashtag takes a huge amount of courage.

I absolutely love Star Boy’s perspective on human life. His view of the world through his data lens is so innocent and uncomplicated and he is so entertaining – even more so because he doesn’t mean to be!

This is such a feel-good read and would make a fantastic class novel from Year 4 upwards.

How to be a Human was published by Little Tiger Press and is out now.

With thanks to Little Tiger for the review copy of this wonderful book.

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