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Aliens Are Coming!    by Meghan McCarthy order for
Aliens Are Coming!
by Meghan McCarthy
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Before television, there was inventive radio broadcasting. I can remember sitting by the radio with my Tata in the late 1940s and 1950s, listening to The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Archie, Fibber McGee and Molly, and many other entertaining programs. Aliens Are Coming! is an adaptation for children (and surely for adults, too) of the true story of a CBS radio broadcast in 1938 that shook American audiences. The story broadcast on October 30th (the day before Halloween) was a fictional radio play, yet listeners believed it to be true, and panicked.

The headline announcer stated that aliens had landed in Grovers Mill, New Jersey: 'Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin ... Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory ... reports observing several explosions ... on the planet Mars.' The announcer's voice was that of actor and director, Orson Welles, who was a fan of H. G. Wells' science-fiction novel, The War of the Worlds (the same story made into a movie in 2005, starring Dakota Fanning and Tom Cruise). McCarthy's Author's Note explains the Halloween hoax, which used many other actors' voices as well. The New York Times newspaper article stated: 'in Newark, New Jersey, more than twenty families were spotted fleeing their homes', and the question of the day was: 'What time will it be the end of the world?'

McCarthy created the text and luxurious color art on the oversize-book jacket and the illustrations inside. Her art is 'reminiscent of the pulp magazines and dime-store novels of the day' (that is, the 1930s), which in itself is a part of history. I especially like the wide-open eyes of radio listeners, and the round space and rocket ships! This story about another story should not be passed by, especially for those who have never heard about this uncanny, realistic radio broadcast. Aliens Are Coming! is a book worth collecting.

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