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Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Illustrated by Steven Lenton

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Humorous Science Fiction

LoveReading View on Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

A tour de force that movingly encompasses such deep topics as dementia, fostering, and selective mutism whilst also being an hilarious encounter with an alien visitor creating havoc while the hero is trying to save the world and coming to terms with his own difficult situation

Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award

With all the invention, originality and insight that is typical of his writing for children, Frank Cottrell Boyce takes the sad story of Laika, the first living creature to orbit Earth, and uses it as inspiration for a story about the importance of home. As ever, it’s both brilliantly funny and extraordinarily moving. Prez is living with a temporary foster family when he opens the door to Sputnik. Prez sees an alien – in a kilt – everyone else sees a dog. Over the course of the summer Prez and Sputnik have some amazing adventures and break a lot of laws, including some of the laws of physics, but in the process they save the world, and reunite Prez with his grandfather. As wild as a cartoon strip, this wonderful story pinpoints all the best things about life on Earth.

No-one writes like Frank Cottrell Boyce, and readers who enjoy this will also love his books Cosmic and The Astounding Broccoli Boy. Jamie Thomson’s Dark Lord books are also very funny, and just as good on human nature as is My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons. 

Andrea Reece

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth Synopsis

Shortlisted for the 2017 Carnegie Medal and selected for the Tom Fletcher Book Club, Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth is an adventure about the Blythes: a big, warm, rambunctious family who live on a small farm and sometimes foster children. Now Prez has come to live with them. But, though he seems cheerful and helpful, he never says a word. Then one day Prez answers the door to someone claiming to be his relative. This small, loud stranger carries a backpack, walks with a swagger and goes by the name of Sputnik. Prez is amazed at the family's response to Sputnik's arrival. They pat him on the head, call him a good boy and drop food into his mouth. It seems they all think Sputnik is a dog! Chaos is unleashed when Sputnik arrives as household items come to life - like a TV remote that fast-forwards people and a toy lightsaber that entertains guests at a children's party, until one of them is nearly decapitated by it - and Prez is going to have to use his voice to explain himself. As Sputnik takes Prez on a journey to finish writing his guidebook to Earth called Ten Things Worth Doing on Earth, each adventure seems to take Prez nearer to the heart of the family he is being fostered by but they also take him closer to the day that he is due to leave them forever . . .

This edition features fantastic cover artwork and black and white inside illustrations from the incredible Steven Lenton.

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to the review by one of the Lovereading4kids editorial experts some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. Click here to read their full reviews.

  • Jack Smith, age 11 - 'Exciting and full of adventure!'
  • Oliver Thorpe, age 10 - 'Credit to Frank Cottrell Boyce for this amazing book.  It is fun, light and exciting.  Once you get into it, there's no putting it down.  Good for anyone who enjoys a funny book.'
  • Isabella Campbell, age 12 - 'Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth is a funny, heart-warming tale of a young boy named Prez finding his voice, helped by his unlikely companion, Sputnik, an extra-terrestrial.'
  • Alex, age 11 - 'I found this book a bit confusing because I couldn't follow the plot of the story and couldn't understand what was going on.'

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth Press Reviews

Will send your imagination into orbit! - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Blog

Sure to be a hit with young enquiring minds, this is a tale which is heart-breaking and hilarious in equal measure. - The School Librarian

This is an out-of-this world adventure that is also a heartening story about the importance of friendship and family. - The Week Junior

...classic Cottrell Boyce: zany, lay-out-loud funny and with a very strong emotional heart. - INIS reading guide

whimsical, heart-wrenching and hilarious. - Scotsman

A wonderful and exciting story about friendship and appreciating what you have. - Independent

A touching tale . . . told with wild humour and panache - Telegraph

a spiky, effervescent treat, like Spielberg's ET put in a blender with a bottle of Irn-Bru. - The Financial Times

Wholly original and exceptionally funny - The Bookseller Book of the Month

Light-hearted and profound - Sunday Times Book of the Week

Full of heart and emotion that might just bring a tear to your eye. If it doesn't though it's still got lightsabers and alien space dogs. - Tom Fletcher, Tom Fletcher Book Club

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781529008814
Publication date: 21/02/2019
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781447237570
Publication date: 09/02/2017
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780230771376
Publication date: 07/04/2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781529008814
Publication date: 21st February 2019
Author: Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Illustrator: Steven Lenton
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Humorous, Science Fiction

About Frank Cottrell-Boyce

A World Book Day Author 2019 Frank Cottrell Boyce is an accomplished, successful and award-winning author and screenwriter. His books have been shortlisted for a multitude of prizes, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Children's Fiction Award (now the Costa Book Award) and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and Millions, his debut children's novel, won the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2004. Millions was was later turned into a film by Danny Boyle and it features in the Book Trust’s 100 Best Books List for 9-11 year olds. Frank is also a successful writer of film scripts and was the ...

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