Boom! by Mark Haddon (lexile:NA ; AR book level: 4.1; 195 pp)
Imagine you and your best friend decide to bug the teacher’s lounge at school — pretty clever, huh? But in the process you overhear two of them talking secretly in a strange, unknown language. Do you forget about it? Or do you decide there’s a mystery afoot that has to be pursued?
That’s what Jim and Charlie do in this funny, fast-paced adventure set in Great Britain. They soon find themselves in over their heads, however, when they see their teacher’s eyes glowing blue, and a strange man with even stranger powers threatens them. (Can YOU burn through a tabletop with your fingertips?) The story moves quickly, with a kidnapping, a crazy motorcycle ride to the wilds of northern Scotland, and a (literally) out-of-this-world trip to not only rescue a best friend, but even keep the planet from being blown up.
This is light adventure, with funny characters and dialogue. The interaction between Jim and his rebellious older sister (who turns out to play a pretty important role) is great. And I loved the giant monkey-faced spider alien named Britney who had apparently learned all her English from 70s disco. The story includes some British English vocabulary, but readers can figure it out from the context.