Alien Nation

Levine Querido. Apr. 2021. 56p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646140381.
Gr 2-4–Bassi’s new black-and-white wordless book is a story about alienation, and an indictment of technology. In an underground train, all the citizens have right-out-of-science-fiction alien-looking heads on top of human bodies wearing conventional clothing, and they are all staring down at their phones. No one notices anything around them until, around the 11th page, the Wi-Fi connection goes down. As they look up and around to see why they have no connection, the panels become chaotic, and it seems as if the riders are freaking out and even exploding. The illustrations become more animated at this point, but as soon as the Wi-Fi is restored, they turn back to their devices and order returns. Children who enjoy explaining a story through pictures could come up with some creative dialogue for this story and tie our present-day technology habits to those of the alien-like creatures in this book.
VERDICT For educators seeking a dramatic path into a discussion of modern habits, this book is it. It’s unflinching in its assessment of human nature, and provides no hopeful ending.

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