The Alien Zoo…Good As New! by Adrian Beck

“Holy heckballs!” as Jen would say. Adrian Beck has written a fun, action-packed, roller coaster (or is that food cart) ride of an adventure with The Alien Zoo…Good As New! as Ben and Jen along with Gideon, Dane and Ava, attempt to save both alien and Earth creatures and even humankind from extinction. Who knew Space Flu could be so dangerous?

A shape-shifting Sh’veele infected with Space Flu is delivered to the Alien Zoo and needs to be kept in isolation before it is cured. However, when Jen’s sweet little guinea pig Vernon escapes from her pocket and enters the Sh’veele’s container he becomes infected and transforms into a large ferocious zombie furball, all teeth and claws and ready to attack. Vernon needs to be caught before he infects the Alien Zoo…and beyond!

When humans get the flu we’re all aches and pains, snuffles and sore throats. However, when alien creatures are infected with Space Flu it takes effect immediately and they become wildly aggressive, detest being locked up and worst of all they develop a taste for humans (the only ones immune to Space Flu)! Imagine what some of the creatures with all types of dangerous abilities that you’ve already met in the first Alien Zoo book would be like when zombified? Yikes!!

Normally Space Flu isn’t a problem at the Alien Zoo because Cooper the robot would spray the cure through sprinklers. However, Ben has been reprogramming Cooper and now the decontamination process isn’t working. Ben needs to do a manual reset of Cooper to get him working properly and stop the Space Flu from spreading. It’s not going to be easy to make their way to the control room where the most dangerous creatures are kept while also being chased by baby Greepers who have transformed into hulking beasts with razor sharp tails. On their dangerous quest to stop the spread of the Space Flu, our brave zoo keepers and friends hide out in the stinky cheese burp-filled Flurp enclosure to cover their human scent, dodge icy cold spitballs from an Octorg that turns its targets to sub zero before they shatter, survive a hair raising ride in food carts above a swirling lava river and solve Grandpa’s mysterious codes and clues. As the reader, you too get to be part of the action by solving interactive puzzles and optical illusions along the way and finally discover why hippos are so important and what really happened to Grandad.

I really enjoyed how fast paced this adventure is, the creative problem solving and Adrian’s fun and cheeky sense of humour that shines through Ben as he narrates the story. It has all the elements that make a great book for teachers to have fun reading to their class. Add to this Heath McKenzie’s lively illustrations that brilliantly bring the characters and alien creatures to life and you have a perfect team.

I liked the first book, The Alien Zoo….And You! so much that I dressed as Jen for Book Week last year!

Happy reading and avoiding Space Flu!

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