Wanted: UFO

In Wanted: UFO, Elise is a daydreamer who likes to fantasize that one day a UFO will swoop down to reclaim her, ”a lost child of the stars.” Nick, a grade-school classmate, is implacably rational and aims at a career as an astronaut. Though amiably polite, he scorns Elise’s romantic tall tales in favor of hard scientific fact.

So it hardly seems fair when a spaceship, carrying two strange men with antennae ”like two brown asparagus stalks,” lands in Nick’s swimming pool. And come to think of it, Elise asks herself, what are those two rudimentary bumps on Nick’s head?

Space fantasies for children are as profuse as stars in the Milky Way, but few are as sprightly and convincing as this one. It’s a skillful sleight of hand: When doubting Nick turns out to be a ”Thuban” extraterrestrial, our skepticism vanishes along with his.

Roles are reversed in earnest when Nick decides to run away from Earth with his fellow Thubans and Elise frantically tries to convince him that life in the suburban USA is better than the star travel she once raptly imagined.

Like a shallow, fast-moving creek, this story offers sparkle, refreshment, and a few exciting rapids — but no fascinating depths. B+

Wanted: UFO