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About The Book

Gabe Fuentes is in for the ride of his life when he becomes Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy in this alien sci-fi adventure from the National Book Award–winning author of Goblin Secrets.

Gabe Fuentes is reading under the covers one summer night when he is interrupted by a creature who looks like a purple sock puppet. The sock puppet introduces himself as the Envoy and asks if Gabe wants to be Earth’s ambassador to the galaxy. What sane eleven-year-old could refuse?

Some ingenious tinkering with the washing machine sends Gabe’s “entangled” self out to the center of the galaxy. There he finds that Earth is in the path of a destructive alien force—and Gabe himself is the target of an assassination plot. Exactly who wants him out of the way? And why?

Back home, Gabe discovers that his undocumented immigrant parents are in danger of being deported. Can Gabe survive long enough to solve two sets of “alien” problems? He runs for his life, through Minneapolis and outer space, in this fast-paced adventure from a National Book Award–winning author.

“Physics lovers will enjoy this clever series opener—but so will those who enjoy comedy, politics, diplomacy or strange-looking aliens” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).


Ambassador 1
The Envoy tossed itself at the world.

An ambassador’s business had left it stranded on the moon for years and decades. During all that time it tried to patch together a return capsule from Soviet equipment abandoned on the surface. But this had never actually worked, and now it needed to hurry, so it gave up on the capsule and built a cannon instead. Then the Envoy aimed itself and its cannon at the world.

This was not the tricky part.

Moving through vacuum for several days was not the tricky part either. The Envoy had no ship, no craft, no transportation. It had only itself: the spherical, purple transparency of its own substance. It clenched its outer layers, becoming glass-like to bounce radiation away and keep itself from dehydrating. But it remained clear enough to let light in. All of it was sensitive to light. It was its own big, purple eyeball. The Envoy watched the approaching planet with all of itself, and enjoyed the view.

The nightside of the globe grew large ahead. Constellations of bright and artificial light stretched out across landmasses. The Envoy expected to land in Russia again, or possibly in China, but North America stretched out below it.

The first hints of atmosphere scraped against its skin. The Envoy winced. This was going to hurt. This would be the tricky part.

The Envoy became a blind eye, opaque, closing itself and all its senses. The view was about to become too searingly bright to appreciate. Air turned to plasma against the friction of the Envoy’s passage.

It shed several layers of scorched self. Then it slowed down by expanding, thinning its substance against air currents like the stretched skin of a flying squirrel or a flying fish or a flying squid. It became its own parachute—though it didn’t slow down nearly as much as a real parachute would have. The Envoy tumbled into a rough glide. It became transparent again, letting light pass through it, trying to see where it was going and what it was falling toward. It failed to see very much.

The Envoy smacked into a small pond in an urban park. The noise and splash startled several geese, ducks, catfish, and turtles.

It sank into the mud and muck at the very bottom and felt itself gradually cool, losing the sting of impact. It needed time to collect itself—though not literally, for which it was grateful. Its substance remained in one single piece.

A few curious fish tried to nibble the Envoy. It tried to ignore them. Then it made a limb and shoed them away. Finally it stretched out and relearned how to swim. It had been a long time since the Envoy had lived in an aquatic environment, but now it remembered how to wave and ripple like a manta ray. It swam up to the surface of the pond. There it carefully observed the shore, the surrounding park, and the playgrounds.

The Envoy spent many days floating and recovering from planetfall before it noticed Gabriel Sandro Fuentes.

About The Author

Photograph by Matthew Aronoff

William Alexander won the National Book Award for his debut novel, Goblin Secrets, and won the Earphones Award for his narration of the audiobook. His other novels include A Festival of GhostsA Properly Unhaunted PlaceGhoulish SongNomad, and Ambassador. William studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at the Clarion workshop. He teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Like the protagonist of Nomad and Ambassador, William is the son of a Latino immigrant to the US. Visit him online at and, and on Twitter via @WillieAlex.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (September 23, 2014)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442497665
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 690L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

*"An interstellar embassy, alien assassins, galactic mass extinctions: These are Gabe’s small problems...Physics lovers will enjoy this clever series opener—but so will those who enjoy comedy, politics, diplomacy or strange-looking aliens."

– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Galactic Dr. Who shenanigans."

– Publishers Weekly

"National Book Award–winning Alexander ( Goblin Secrets, 2012) injects meaningful depth into an exciting sci-fi adventure, perceptively exploring what it means to be alien."

– Booklist

Alexander creates in Gabe a character who remains tremendously likable while exhibiting courage, diplomacy, and invention in trying to take care of his family, himself, and his planet all at once. It’s a meaty and entertaining novel with an open-ended conclusion offering lots of room for discussion.

– Horn Book

In the short time William Alexander has had books out, I have become a huge fan of his writing. He has done it again—Gabe Fuentes is imaginative, sweet, and courageous in all the right ways without being a bit saccharine or off-putting, and is most likely going to save planet earth from destruction. I can’t wait for book number 2!

– Jane Yolen, author of The Devil's Arithmetic

"An engaging and smart allegory about the hurt and strangeness of the modern immigrant condition."

– Hector Tobar, The New York Times

"This is an excellent book."

– Library Media Connection

Awards and Honors

  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Junior Title
  • Minnesota Book Awards Finalist
  • International Latino Book Award Honorable Mention

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More books from this author: William Alexander