“What's the Human Handybook?” asked Martha.
“It's a new study of human behaviour. To go with the Earth Manual. So Carnelians who come to Earth will know who they're dealing with.” Opal reached into the pocket on her shirtsleeve and took out the tiny book and a stubby pencil. “Shouldn't take long to write. I'll have it done and dusty in no time.”
Martha didn't think the book looked big enough for a study of anything.
“Yes it is,” said Opal, reading her thoughts. “Uncle Bixie says human beings are very simple life forms, not much more complicated than those blobby things you have in your oceans.”
“Jellyfish?” offered Robbie.
“That's the fellas,” said Opal.
When Opal Moonbaby arrives back on Earth she announces that she's been asked to compile a Human Handybook, a new supplement to go with the Earth Manual. She's chosen a very small notebook for the job. It's the sort of book that would look well in a doll's house and the things Opal ends up putting inside it are decidedly strange. Here are some of them.
1. Humans like cheesy puffs
2. Humans like pirates
3. Humans pick things out of their noses
4. Humans like to stare at a box called TV
5. Small humans keep furry toys
6. Bigger humans keep furry toys that can run around and say woof or miaow.
7. Humans cry tears when they are sad or when they are happy, or for no reason at all.
8. Humans have a thing called jealousy – this sounds like a pudding, but it isn't.
Opal thinks she's more or less finished by the time she gets to Number 8 but she goes on to discover that humans are really quite a complex bunch of creatures and her notebook isn't nearly big enough to describe them properly.
Of course, for Opal, Earth is another planet but I sometimes wonder if children viewing the adult world, the one they're supposed to grow up into, must think that's like another planet too.
If you were writing the Human Handybook for Opal Moonbaby, what would you include?
About Zooming Time Opal Moonbaby is the second book in the series and is published on the 7th February by Orion Children's Books. £6.99 - paperback, £4.49 ebook.
Opal Moonbaby is spending a year on Earth. A whole year! Martha can't wait to take her to school, to introduce her to her friends and to recreate all the fun they had during the summer. But things don't turn out quite as expected and before Martha knows it, Opal is off making new friends, doing new things and throwing herself into life on Earth - and Martha can't keep up.
When Opal's Uncle Bixie warns them that the nasty Mercurials, enemies from their home planet of Carnelia, are on their way to Earth, planning mischief, Martha begins to worry. But Opal is far too busy making friends to be bothering about those stupid Mercurials. Besides, her eyes would z-ray them immediately and she'd dazzle-kick them all the way back to Carnelia.
About the author
Maudie Smith started work as an actress, but moved to Bath with her TV screenwriter husband. She gave up touring theatre when she had children. In the last couple of years she's written a libretto for a newly commissioned opera and run a very successful school drama club, whilst raising two daughters, cats, chickens, guinea pigs etc. She is currently doing an MA at Bath Spa in Writing for Young People.