Ambassador by William Alexander

rosiereads613's review

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Enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Wish it didn't end on a bit of a cliffhanger though

yapha's review against another edition

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Gabe Fuentes has been chosen to be Earth's ambassador to an intergalactic council. It is made up of children, because they find it easier to accept beings and situations that are different from the norm. There is a sense of urgency however, since unfamiliar spacecraft have been spotted in the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter, and diplomacy is necessary to figure out who is there and why. There is urgency at home, too, since both of Gabe's parents are in the United States illegally. This is a phenomenal book with spectacular parallels between both kinds of aliens, in addition to being an action-packed adventure. Highly recommended to grades 4-8.

stenaros's review

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Read for librarian book group

Yeah, so this was an excellent half of a book. I was all in for the whole thing, which is only part of the story. My number one rule of writing a series? Each book must stand on its own, with the successor being a nice surprise. You can't just leave major plot lines dangling and call it good.

When he publishes the rest of the story, I will be interested to see how our main character balances being the Earth's ambassador to the universe's diplomatic corps and see what happens with his mother and father and their impending deportation for being illegal aliens.

Get it? Aliens/Aliens? Very clever, that Mr. Alexander. If only he had finished his book.

the_fabric_of_words's review

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We discovered William Alexander's fantasy middle grade work, his medieval faire-setting A Festival of Ghosts and A Properly Unhaunted Place, a few years ago and read and reviewed them for my annual December, Review-a-Day Countdown to the Holiday.

I'd been meaning to read more of his middle grade books (there are a bunch!) and came across this sci-fi duology. I passed them along to my teen son, who also loved them.

They really do read like one book that got broken into two for middle-grade reader expectations of length. The first is 222 pages, and clearly ends unresolved. In fact, by the end, it feels like it's just getting started. While the second book is a bit longer, 264 pages, and wraps up everything started in book one. I'd recommend reading one right after the other with no pause between them.

Eleven-year-old Gabe Fuentes starts the summer before 6th grade on the neighborhood park playground, watching his younger siblings, and learns his best friend, Frankie, won't be able to spend it with him. Earlier, the boys set off a "rocket" made from a metal pipe, instead of cardboard (can anyone say pipe-bomb?), and after the damage, which Gabe took the blame for, Frankie's mom is shipping him off to his father's house in Califas.

At the same time, "The Envoy," a sort of purple blob that had been hanging out on an abandoned USSR-era clandestine moon base, has built a genuine rocket and launched itself back to Earth to select another Ambassador to speak for Terra, Earth.

It lands in the park lake and spots Gabe, choosing him to be the next Ambassador. When it shows itself to Gabe, he takes the news equanimously, listening to its explanation why it chose a child to be its plenipotentiary for Earth with a marked lack of panic or disbelief.

According to the Envoy, which speaks in Gabe's mother's voice, "Adults of most species find it more difficult to communicate with anyone outside their arbitrary circle -- or even recognize that anybody exists outside it. So ambassadors are always young. Always."

The Envoy has repurposed the duplex owner's washing machine to properly "entangle" Gabe's being and get him, while he dreams, to the Chancery, where ambassadors of all the existing species hang out and "play" and negotiate.

The Envoy spotted a fleet of ships in our solar system's asteroid belt, and Gabe has to go to the Chancery and figure out who may be stealing water from us (humans).

It's not long before someone tries to kill him, sucking the entanglement device (the repurposed washing machine) and the basement and first floor of the duplex through a black hole. At the same time, Gabe's father runs a stop sign. Or, at least the patrol officer who stops him claims he ran a stop sign, and once Gabe's dad admits he has no "papers" to be in the US legally, he's carted off to an ICE detention facility. Along with his mother. He learns his older sister, Lupe, was also not born in the US.

While both his parents are from Mexico, originally, Gabe's mother came legally on a visa while his father got caught trying to enter when he was very young and was deported, which means Gabe's dad will be shipped back to Mexico immediately, while his mother is given a hearing.

But there's another twist: Frankie's house used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Fuentes family's evacuation plan is to hide out there, in case of detection.

Gabe figures he can't hide out with his family in his best-friend's hideaway because someone's trying to kill him...and when he slips out, and a laser fires in the exact spot where he'd just been standing, he knows leaving is the only safe thing to do.

With the Envoy's help, and some very clever reasoning on his part, he'll physically out-run the assassins' attempts to kill him while walking a fine-line between our nearest galactic neighbors and a species known for its desire to exterminate all life in the galaxy, called the Outlast.

It's a great read, and in some ways is a very typical middle grade book. There's a scene when Gabe has to pee in space, zero-gravity, that had all of us laughing and kinda grossed-out at the same time.

A fun way to start your summer reading!

Visit my blog for more great middle grade book recommendations, free teaching materials and fiction writing tips:

librarydose's review against another edition

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After settling in for a long and boring summer, Gabe is suddenly approached by a shapeless purple creature who can speak in his mother's voice. The purple blob turns out to be an envoy from outerspace, an alien, who has chosen Gabe to the Ambassador for Earth to other galaxies and lifeforms. At the same time, Gabe's father gets arrested and deported for being an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Finding his balance between the tumult and changes at home and his new, otherwordly responsibilities (which come with a lot of danger), Gabe struggles to survive the craziest summer of his life.

A super unusual plot with wonderful writing.

annieliz's review against another edition

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looking forward to a sequel??

saragrochowski's review against another edition

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4.5 stars. Review forthcoming.

margothere's review against another edition

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Good science sci-fi paired with solid reality allows opportunity for many different kids to hook into this fun and imaginative book. Looking forward to the continuing story!
IB PYP: open-minded, risk-taker, thinker, communicator, inquirer, knowledgeable, balanced, reflective, caring, principled.

hollowspine's review

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What a wonderful story! I loved that the main character did all these normal kid activities and they were so effectively translated into being amazing ambassador skills. I love that the messages are so in tune with real issues that children come up against, yet the book never feels preachy or didactic. Even so he also doesn't dumb anything down or pull any punches, either.

The story follows Gabe Fuentes as he discovers that mankind is not only not alone in the universe, but he is going to represent humanity to the rest of the galaxy. A very imaginative book that explores our place in the universe and what it means to call a place home.

This would be wonderful for children's book clubs, the story is funny, exciting and has a ton of things to discuss it's like eating something healthy that tastes so good you don't even care that your mom is telling you how much Vitamin C it has in it.

pages_and_procrastination's review

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This was a very good read. And it is a book that makes you think, about how much one takes for granted, and what it really means to belong or to be the outsider. In this case Gabe is both for very different reason. Becoming the ambassador is an adventure that allows Gabe to process the very real "alien" status of his parents and older sister. But it's not safe, and that is something that is never really addressed in most adventure stories that ask young kids to risk a lot for the sake of their planet/country/home. But Gabe finds out a lot of who he is and what he is capable of (both good and bad), But it is the decision that he makes at the end that makes me respect him the most. I like the idea behind this book, and that it is so much more than an "aliens is coming to take over the world" story. Kids are asked to make tough decisions and protect worlds that probably don't recognize their value or the things that they do unnoticed. At least Gabe's world has no idea. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.