Smek for President!


By Adam Rex

Illustrated by Adam Rex

Cover design or artwork by Adam Rex

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In this much anticipated sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday, Tip and J.Lo are back for another hilarious intergalactic adventure. And this time (and last time, and maybe next time), they want to make things right with the Boov. After Tip and J.Lo banished the Gorg from Earth in a scheme involving the cloning of many, many cats, the pair is notorious???but not for their heroics. Instead, human Dan Landry has taken credit for conquering the Gorg, and the Boov blame J.Lo for ruining their colonization of the planet. Determined to clear his name, J.Lo and Tip pack into Slushious, a Chevy that J.Lo has engineered into a fairly operational spaceship, and head to New Boovworld, the aliens’ new home on one of Saturn’s moons. But their welcome isn’t quite as warm as Tip and J.Lo would have liked. J.Lo is dubbed Public Enemy Number One, and Captain Smek knows that capturing the alien is the only way he’ll stand a chance in the Boovs’ first-ever presidential election. With the help of a friendly flying billboard named Bill, a journey through various garbage chutes, a bit of time travel, and a slew of hilarious Boovish accents, Tip and J.Lo must fight to set the record straight???and return home in once piece.


Also by Adam Rex

The True Meaning of Smekday

Copyright © 2014 by Adam Rex
Cover design by Tyler Nevins
Cover illustrations © 2014 by Adam Rex

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.

ISBN 978-1-4847-1057-9


For Henry


I heard our back door open, and J.Lo plunged through in a snit.

“The peoples in this town, they sure do hold a grudge,” he announced. “You accidentally make ONE PUPPY colossal and suddensly you are ‘that alien.’

I have to admit I didn’t stir from the sofa, or even look up from my magazine. I’d heard all this before. “You just have to give them more time to get used to you.”

“Used to me? Used to me? I am already used to them, and there are manies more of them to be used to.”

“Everything will calm down once they catch the puppy.”

“But in the meantimes I grow them a perfectly good new community center out of cornstarch and not even a thank-you!”

I laid the magazine in my lap. “Your cornstarch community center melted,” I reminded him. “In the rain. All those Cub Scouts—”

“Yes, yes,” J.Lo replied with an impatient wave. “Well...” he added, deflating slightly. Literally deflating—it’s a Boov thing. “It serves the Club Scouts right for not letting aliens join.”

“So what happened today?”

“Oh...” J.Lo shrugged, or tried to. He doesn’t really have the shoulders for it. “It was just this man on the corner. I should have jaywalked that street. The humans laws cannot tell a Boov whats to do.”

“I bet the police would disagree with you. And you’ve spent enough time in court lately.”

J.Lo plunked down on the footstool. “I am a rebel,” he whispered. “Prisoner of a world that does not understand me.”

“You’re somethin’, all right.”

“A prisoner...”

I’ll admit I’d been feeling a little like a prisoner myself lately. About a year ago we’d moved out of the city to a quiet part of the Poconos. General Motors had paid us a lot of money for a good look at our flying car, Slushious, and we’d spent most of it on a nice house near a lake. It was so nice and quiet and peaceful and calm that I sometimes wanted to scream and break things. I’d grown up in a city; I was a city girl. It was weeks before I could get used to sleeping without the sounds of people honking at one another.

So I said, “If you really feel that way, we should go somewhere. Mom may have to work, but I have nothing to do until September.”

J.Lo fell off the footstool. But he came up strong. “Yes!” he cheered, pumping his arms. “New road trip!”

“They’re still rebuilding Happy Mouse Kingdom,” I said, rousting myself. “But we could go to the beach. Or Arizona! We completely trashed the place during the occupation, so it would be nice to spend some of our Slush Fund there.”

“Is ‘Slush Fund’ a name you just now made up to call our Slushious-car dollars?”



“We totally missed the Grand Canyon back when we were in Arizona,” I added. “We could see that. Or New York City—I’m gonna live there one day anyway, so I may as well check it ou—”

“NEW BOOVWORLD!” said J.Lo. “New Boovworld! Final answer no takebacks!”

“Oh,” I said, sitting again. “Yeah? New Boovworld.”

“We will see the HighBoovperial Palace, and then to the Museum of Noises, and I hear through my nanowave radio that they have rebuilt the Mysterious Bridge.”

“What’s so mysterious about it?”

“It is actually a hat shop. Also it has a twist ending!”

“Yeah?” I said. “What’s the twist?”

J.Lo frowned, and made a little twirl with his finger. “It...curves at the end. Am I not using that word right?”

“J.Lo,” I said, in a tone of voice I hated as soon as I heard it. “J.Lo, is all this really a good idea? You on New Boovworld?”

His face fell. And turned mauve, slightly.

* * *

I saved the world a while back. J.Lo and I did, that is—we forced these big aliens called the Gorg to leave Earth before they’d destroyed it with their huge purple ship.

Now, before you say anything: I realize you’ve probably read Dan Landry’s book, Just a Hero, and you know that he took credit for the whole thing. He got super famous for it, as you can imagine. Well, I let him. One day I intend to be a super-famous author myself, and if I want to be sure people really love me for my books, I have to let Dan Landry have this one. Every time I publish something, I don’t need people saying, “It’s a good read, a real page-turner, but you know what thing of hers I really liked? That time she saved the world.”

So I’m really only writing this for practice, and so my biographers will have stuff for their research after I’m dead. People always tell you, “Writers write,” and after you get over the urge to say “No duh,” you realize they just mean you gotta do it every day, even if you don’t have any good ideas. Whatever. Practice.

You know who didn’t get enough writing practice? Dan Landry. Not to be mean, but I don’t think real autobiographies are supposed to have so many exclamation points.

So maybe you haven’t read his book. Maybe everyone eventually realized that he used too many adverbs, or that he stole his whole climax from The Last Starfighter. Maybe you read some other book that got the Smekday Invasion wrong, or saw that animated movie they made about it. Whatever your deal is, you probably think you know all there is to know. And if that’s what you think, you don’t.

So let me get you caught up.

I guess I must have gotten famous if you’re reading this, right? The late, great Gratuity “Tip” Tucci. Or maybe you’re just a sneak.


And in the end Dan Landry claimed to have made the Gorg leave Earth by defeating their champion in this cage-match dealie that was conveniently free of witnesses, so whatever.

“Don’t get me wrong,” I told J.Lo. “I think the Boov should love to have you visit. I think—”

The doorbell rang. Our Great Dane, Lincoln, came galloping out of the laundry room, barking and trailing a meringue of dog slobber. “Hold on,” I said, and got up. “Lincoln? Lincoln? Lincoln! Sit! Siiiiit. Good boy.”

There was a college girl out on the porch. I didn’t know for sure she was a college girl until she turned to leave and I saw that her short-shorts said DUKE across the butt. I hope that’s what that meant.

“Is this where the Boov lives?” she snarled at me before I could even say hi.

“I...think he lives in this neighborhood,” I told her. “Why?”

“He tackled me outside the yogurt shop! Look what he did to my boots!”

She showed me her furry boots by way of pointing one leg straight at me, like a rifle. They looked kind of mangy, as if someone had been ripping clumps of hair out. And they were perforated in a way that was pretty consistent with J.Lo’s dental pattern, so.

“Try the blue house on the corner,” I told her. “Good luck!” And she turned and stormed off without another word. Lincoln trotted back to the laundry room.

“All right, what was that about?” I asked when I returned to the living room. J.Lo was petting Pig. “Why did you attack some girl’s boots?”

J.Lo looked incredulous. “She is still mad about this?” he huffed. “I told her—I thought they were anklewolves.”

“Okay, whatever. I—”

“Why elsenow would a person wear fur with shortpants? It makes no sense!”

“I’m past that now. My point from before is: I think the other Boov should want you there. They should give you a parade. But all they know is that you’re the Boov who signaled the Gorg. They’ll lock you up, or make you shovel koobish poop or whatever.”

J.Lo twiddled his fingers. “Sometimes I think I should make up a time machine,” he said. “Like in your moviefilms. Go back and undo that stupid Gorg signal.”

I just nodded and didn’t tell him what I thought of that. That I really believed that everything had happened in practically the best possible way. Without the Gorg, the Boov would have just kept pushing us around. I don’t know if we ever would have gotten rid of them. But then the Gorg came and spooked the Boov, and we found the Gorg’s Achilles’ nose, and in the end the humans got their planet back. The Boov never really understood how we got the best of the Gorg, but they agreed to make a new start on one of Saturn’s moons. Everybody won. Why mess with that?

“They do not poop, the koobish,” J.Lo said. “By the ways.”


“They release wastes as a spray of tiny particles, aslike air freshener.”

“I didn’t ask.”

J.Lo winced. “But not...exactly like air freshener, if you catch what I am saying—”

“You can’t really build a time machine, can you?”

“Eh. Probablies not. The amount of power required would be ridicumulous. But! Next best thing is go unto see Captain Smek! Explain about the cat clones! If he understands, maybies he will let kiss and make bygones.”

“But you’ll never get within a mile of the palace. They know your face.”

“I cans wear my old helmet up with the glass darkened! No one will know.”

“That won’t look a little conspicuous?”

“Nah, lots of peoples does it. Is like sunglasses.”

“I don’t know.”

J.Lo gave me a look. You’ve probably never seen this look—I don’t know if the human face can even do it—but it is as sad as a baby in a rainstorm.

“I am some kind of crazy celebrity,” he said. “Hated by alls the Boov for to what I did, hated by alls the humans for what the Boov did do.”

“What? No human hates you,” I said. Though I didn’t believe it. “After the Latin Grammys last November1 you were actually kind of popular. For a while.” That much was true—he’d even been a guest on some talk shows. And I’d watched those talk shows, and made nervous fists whenever I’d thought the audience was laughing at him instead of with him. I can make my hands hurt even now, just thinking about it.

“You did not hear this man today,” said J.Lo. “At the crossedwalk. He told to me: ‘you are that alien.’ Like that he said this.”

There. I was making fists again. “Well,” I muttered. “I hope he got hit by a truck.”

“No you do not do.”

“Too harsh?”

“Too harsh.”

“A truck carrying pillows then,” I said. “A pillow truck.”

“I wonder now,” said J.Lo, “if there has ever before been such a person as me. The fink of two planets.”

I thought, One planet and a moon, but it didn’t seem like the time to nitpick.

The doorbell rang again. Lincoln scrabbled out of the laundry room, barking and oozing things from his face, and pawed at the door until I got him to sit.

“Good afternoon, miss,” said the shorter of the two police officers on the porch.


“We’ve had a complaint against the Boov known as J.Lo?”


“For shoe biting?”


“Do you know his current whereabouts?”

I sighed. “He went to New Boovworld,” I told them.


If you ever want to schedule some quiet time to think about what a bad daughter you are, may I suggest the silent inky blackness of space? If you’re like me, you’ll really get to feeling like garbage right around the boring stretch between Mars and Jupiter.

And yes—as a matter of fact, I do mean boring. When we shot up through the atmosphere, I think I was about as excited as I’ve ever been my entire life, and looking out the back windshield at Earth, round and blue and perfect looking? Super nice. But after that it’s just black. You can see a lot of stars, but they’re all so far away that you can’t even tell you’re moving. So sue me—eventually I just drifted into the backseat, buckled myself in so I wouldn’t float around, and read.

“We should have teleported,” I said.

“Hm. Very tricky, teleporting so far,” J.Lo answered. “A person would need a burly transmitter.”

“I don’t think ‘burly’ is the word you want. Powerful?”

“Yes. Very powerful. Or else the signal gets degraded acrost such a distance.”

He got a weird look on his face, like this line of thought troubled him. I didn’t ask why. I was the one who’d just left a note for her mom that read Gone to Saturn—call you when I get there, so I figured I had enough troubling me.

Like our last conversation, for instance.

* * *

“What?” she’d said. It was really the only thing she’d been saying for ten minutes, which I was beginning to understand was a bad sign. It was totally ruining dinner.

“Just a little trip,” I told her. “A day trip.”

J.Lo whispered, “It will take a day just to get to there—”

“Just a little three-day trip,” I explained.

“What?” It didn’t even sound like a word anymore. She was a bird of prey, all big-eyed and screechy.

“You let us take a trip together over spring break,” I reminded her.

“Okay, this is nothing like going to Philly,” Mom said, getting polysyllabic all of a sudden. “This is very...very different. Very. How would you even get there?”

“Slushious,” I told her.

“The car? In space. No.”

“It will require some souping,” J.Lo admitted.

“I didn’t even have to tell you,” I said. “I could have said we were just going to Philly again.”

Mom dropped her fork. “Oh, you are not helping your case.”

“All right,” I agreed. “That was a dumb thing to say.”

Mom went back to eating—cramming it in, really. Chewing madly with a frown on her face. Mom has never believed in spanking, but she doesn’t mind showing you what she can do to a ham sandwich if it really gets on her nerves.

“But come on,” I told her. “You’re really going to be like this? I was on my own for six months after you got abducted the first time. I drove three thousand miles.”

“You got shot at, too. So I guess I should let you join the army?”

I groaned. “No one wants to join the army—”

“I’m just trying to figure out the new rules, Tip. Apparently anything you did during the invasion is something you’re allowed all the time now, is that it? I mean, if I hadn’t wanted you to drive a car then, I should have thought of that before getting abducted by freaking aliens, pardon my language.”

“Freaking aliens,” repeated J.Lo.

“Oh!” Mom added, sweeping her arm in his direction. “And J.Lo tells me you ate nothing but vending machine food for a week. So I guess that’s okay too, ’cause apparently I don’t get to be your mother anymore.”

“What?” I coughed. “No one said that.”

She looked down at her plate. “You’ve been saying it all year. In little ways, you’ve been saying it.” She pushed her baked beans around with her fork. “J.Lo, I’m sorry I called you a freaking alien.”

“Is okay. I am sorry for saying you have poodle hair.”

Mom twitched. “When did you say that?”

“Beforenow, when I saw a poodle. You were not there.”

Usually when J.Lo said something like this, Mom and I would share a glance. A you just heard that too, right? kind of look. Instead, she lifted her head and gave me a hard stare.

“Look,” she said. “I know I wasn’t Mom of the Year before the Boov came, but I am all in now.”

I shrank back into my chair. “I know.”

“End of discussion,” said Mom. “J.Lo, please pass the salt.”

“This is the chlorine. The salts is in front of you.” He put a little chlorine on his deodorant sandwich.

Mom shuddered. “We have to start labeling things.”

* * *

I didn’t even really want to go to New Boovworld. I thought it would be too much like a party where I didn’t know anybody. But now that I suddenly wasn’t allowed to, it seemed kind of important. So over the next few days, while J.Lo rebuilt Slushious, I built up my case. If only to myself.

“I just feel like I’ve earned this,” I told J.Lo while he tinkered. “Earned her trust, I mean. I’m thirteen years old. If I’d lived a thousand years ago, I’d be married and have kids and be dead already.”

“You are singing to the preacher,” said J.Lo.

“Preaching to the choir,” I corrected him.

“Yes. This thing.”

He was futzing with these crazy-big thrusters he’d attached to the back of the car. He didn’t need Mom’s permission. Now that his mind was set on hashing things out with Smek, he was going with or without me.

“You know I practically took care of her before the invasion, right?” I added. “She had me when she was pretty young. I think in her mind she was still the community-college girl whose life I ruined.”

“Tipmom does not believe you ruined her life,” said J.Lo as he cranked on a bolt. I stood behind him, feeling kind of hovery and unhelpful. The garage door was open, and the garage air thick with dusty light. J.Lo had piles of tools and garbage everywhere. At least three unfinished projects stood or leaned or lay indecently on the floor with their hatches open. Mom knew to park her Honda in the driveway if she didn’t want to find it suddenly glow-in-the-dark or fitted for skis.

“Whatever. Anyway. At some point during the invasion Mom turned into a, I don’t know, responsible person. Like a reverse werewolf. I can’t get used to it. She’s got all this newfound Momness, and she likes to try it out on me every time I want to do anything fun. Well,” I said. “If I’m all grown up earlier than she wanted, it’s her fault, is what I’m saying.”

“Tip should do now whatever Tip is wanting to.”

“Uh, pretty much, yeah. Right.”

“If Tip to wants to take a trip, Tip should trip.”


“If in schooltime Tip wants some schooltime off, she takes it off.”

“I know when I need a personal day.”

“If she says, ‘I am going to spend my college fund monies on a baseball ball—’”

“It was signed by Jackie Robinson!” I said. After a moment I added, “It was supposed to have been signed by Jackie Robinson. Okay, that one might have been a mistake.”

J.Lo finished draining the car’s oil and started spraying some kind of foam up in there.

“We got most of my money back,” I reminded him.

He didn’t say anything.

“I mean, ‘Jorkie Rombison’...what kind of name is that?”

“Tipmom warned you about the baseball ball,” J.Lo mentioned with a kind of verbal shrug.

“Yeah, well,” I said. “She’s an expert, she’s been scammed so many times.” I paced. “She couldn’t even see through Dan Landry’s act, you know? So.”

In the silence that followed, it was hard not to notice what an amazing spaceship Slushious wasn’t. Still too much Ford Falcon and not enough Millennium Falcon.

“So isn’t the car a little leaky for space travel?”

“Ahanow. Watch,” J.Lo said. He clapped, and a glassy film shot out from the base of the thrusters to form a bubble that enveloped the entire car. Or almost the entire car—there were little round gaps here and there. J.Lo frowned, clapped again to retract the bubble, then clapped a few more times until he finally had a solid casing.

“That inspires confidence,” I said.

“It only needs adjusting. It will be ready.”

“And what if we feel like applauding something on the way?”

“We will have to try not feeling like that,” he replied. “Wait. ‘We’?”

“Yeah,” I said, chewing my lip. “Mom’ll let me go; you’ll see.”

* * *

“Looksee,” said J.Lo now, in space. I sat up and found him pointing out the passenger-side window. “Jupiter.”

I guess we weren’t passing very close. It looked like a distant moon.


  • "Light political satire mixes with action, death rays, and time travel, making this book a smart, fun ride."—Booklist
  • "Rex packs his sequel with loads of action and a steady spotlight on friendship; plus, he adds witty send-ups of political elections, time travel, and even sports rules (again using cartoon panels to good effect). And his humor is, as it was in Smekday, laugh-out-loud funny."—The Horn Book
  • * "[P]lenty of gleeful ridiculousness adorns this outing, which is illustrated with Rex's own fanciful comics...This sequel shares the strengths of its predecessor: the loving friendship between Tip and J.Lo, the respect for the absurd, and the social consciences of the teen protagonist and her ET BFF."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    * "Definitely funny and slyly subversive."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    "Rex's Mad magazine style artwork-realistic enough to drive home the humor and full of clever touches-is the perfect choice for Barnett's high-concept debut."—Publishers Weekly

    "This meta-picture book offers plenty of sly giggles (and knows it)."—Kirkus Reviews

    "[C]hildren will find a meaningful exposition of just what goes into a successful picture book, and how author, illustrator, and character must collaborate and compromise."—Booklist

    "[R]at-a-tat dialogue and fresh visuals should keep it at the top of the bedtime pile."—Publishers Weekly

    * "[A]n elaborate prank on the picture-book genre, and it comes together in playful harmony."—School Library Journal, starred review

    "Children will love this tribute to their imaginings, and adults will appreciate the reminder that until you are taught otherwise, the Moon really can follow you all the way home."—School Library Journal

    "Rex's beautifully drafted nighttime paintings, done with courtroomlike objectivity, are just right for the absentminded alienation of dreams."—Publishers Weekly

    * "This mashup of the ordinary and the far-out, of a little neighborhood and a giant, glowing orb from outer space, thrills."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    "The sometimes-rhyming text is lavish in its simplicity, and Rex's paintings hit the same tone with their impressionistic brushwork and fine attention to detail."—Bulletin of the Center for Children?s Books

    "Although it's a book for children, adults will find this page turner, really a satire about the conquering of foreign cultures, entertaining as well. Its pacing and cadence make it a perfect story for reading aloud, and it's almost impossible to resist sharing great lines with people nearby."—Lisa von Drasek for The New York Times

    "Adam Rex has created a book that is so snappy and fun and angst-giddy that you really can't put it down, because to do so would mean going back to the harsh-world reality in which you live and almost die. But reading a book this captivating is always worth the risk of being abducted by aliens with weak immune systems."—Jack Gantos, author of 2012 Newbery Medal winner Dead End in Norvelt

    "The humor in this story is undeniably unique...the first half of the book is an entirely funny road trip of the Kerouac-meets-E.T. variety "—Kirkus Reviews

    "This is a truly wonderful book about what happens when a girl named Gratuity and a cat named Pig join forces with an alien named J.Lo to try to save the world from another group of aliens who . . . Okay, it gets complicated. But trust me: it never stops being funny."—Dave Barry

    "Who knew the end of the world could be so hilarious? Rex's high-octane fantasy could fairly be called an apocalyptic comedy."—Publishers Weekly

    "[G]uaranteed to tickle the middle-school funny bone."—Booklist

    * "First-time novelist Rex has written an imaginative, wacky, hilarious sci-fi story that will appeal to fans of Eoin Colfer and Jon Scieszka. Lively cartoon-paneled illustrations are interspersed throughout and add to the fun. This is a fast-paced adventure with a whip-smart protagonist, a lovable and resourceful extraterrestrial, and plenty of social commentary."—School Library Journal, starred review

On Sale
Feb 10, 2015
Page Count
272 pages

Adam Rex

About the Illustrator

Adam Rex ( is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich. His other books include Pssst!, The True Meaning of Smekday, The Dirty Cowboy (written by Amy Timberlake) and the Lucy Rose series (written by Katy Kelly). He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Learn more about this illustrator