Beings from all over the universe have gathered on Kamim for the yearly Interstellar Beauty Contest. Fifteen-year-old Liam and his best (and only) friend Absalom are there to represent Earth, although they never actually agreed to come. Now Absalom must put his reservations aside and convince the judges of something he doesn’t quite believe himself: that his short, fat, brown body is beautiful.
Liam only has to announce Absalom and translate the other beings’ sign language for him, a simple enough task for a deaf boy. But when he meets pretty Sadie right before the announcement, his mind goes blank and his hands can’t find the right words.
And then there is Topher, the boy who bullies Liam and Absalom on Earth and was accidentally brought to Kamim with them. He is sullen and mean, but he knows how to be cool and confident, two traits which would help Absalom immensely in the contest…
This contemporary fantasy for young adults and tweens is an adventure story about the power of friendship and believing in yourself.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Beings from around the universe gather together in an interstellar beauty contest. Liam, Absalom (Sal), and Topher were swept up in a green cloud and transported to Kamim, the host planet, for the extraordinary event. The three boys took everything in stride. They didn’t freak out about the situation. Topher, the class bully, was actually more upset about being mistaken for a girl than being abducted by a little green alien.
Sal, the chosen contestant for Earth, wasn’t comfortable showing off his body. Fairies forcibly removed his shirt. Topher asks him to jiggle his fat. And he was repeatedly in a state of embarrassment. The aliens thought he was beautiful; he did not. I didn’t particularly appreciate how “fat” was constantly used to describe Sal’s physique. Words hurt.
Luckily, as the story progressed, Sal became more confident with his body. However, it was a long road to this moment. I was saddened to see Sal body-shamed. I was upset to see how the cops manhandled him. They grossly abused their power. Unfortunately, that display of injustice happens far too frequently in real life.
They were comedic moments in the story and had spectacular galactical beings with unique and fascinating skills. The aliens came in all shapes and sizes; some nice and some not so much.
Whether you are on Earth, Kamim, Windshippers, or another planet, we are all different, and those differences shouldn’t divide us; however, they often do.
Being comfortable in your own skin is hard for many people.
Standing up to bullies is a challenging feat too.
Both issues are addressed in As Red as a Munka Bean.
While I am thrilled Sal gained confidence, I would like another outcome for Topher. (Staying vague to avoid spoilers.) In a nutshell, I wanted him to do the right thing.
This story did have a marvelous blend of hearing and deaf characters. It taught Sal to embrace his size and not let other people’s opinions weigh him down. For that, I recommend this story to teens.
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)
Meet the Author
Kristin has always been an avid reader of many kinds of books: young adult, adventure, fantasy, travel, the classics. As with her reading tastes, her novels don’t adhere to just one genre. You’ll find elements of fantasy and contemporary, books for young adults and those for middle grade readers. Travel often figures into her stories as well.
Kristin grew up in a small town in Connecticut and began writing after her daughter was born. She lives in Germany with her family, where she teaches English as a foreign language to adults. To find out more about Kristin and her current projects, take a look at her website: www.dethlefsenbooks.com or follow her on Twitter @dethlefsenbooks