Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

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Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

Prez Mellows hasn't talked since his grandfather was taken away. When he's placed in a foster home with the talkative Blythe family on Stramoddie Farm, Prez appreciates the routine of farm life after years in a caretaking role for his grandfather, whose Alzheimer's has progressed to the point where he is no longer safe on his own. But Prez worries about his grandfather and doesn't know when he'll see him again.

When Prez answers the doorbell one day, he discovers an odd boy in a kilt and goggles. Sputnik marches into the house and charms everyone in the family, who perceive him as a dog. He is actually an alien on a mission to prove to Planetary Clearance--the organization that "get[s] rid of all the useless old stars and planets to make room for new celestial bodies"--that Earth is worth saving. Prez and Sputnik must come up with a list of 10 things on the planet worth seeing or doing, "and then Earth can carry on waltzing around its little sun."

Boyce (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again) has an imagination that soars, paired with a profound empathy for the inner, sometimes bewildered, life of a child. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor