When schools closed in March, and students suddenly engaging in remote learning, I decided to read my novel, ALIENATED: GROUNDED AT GROOM LAKE, on YouTube, chapter-by-chapter. A type of “virtual class reader.” It’s a fun, funny middle-grade story, perfect for fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson. Star Wars, and Men In Black.
All of the chapters are now archived below.
If you want to read along with me, the book is available in paperback and e-book:
In the US, from Amazon.
In Germany, via RandomHouse.
In the UK via Amazon (UK), Waterstones (UK), or from your local bookshop via Hive.
Many teachers have been in touch, using the videos as a virtual class reader. Please reach out via the comments if you have questions about the book.
While we all stayed home to everyone safe, it didn’t stop us from looking to the stars.
Love from “Area 51.”
On the first anniversary of his mother’s death, Sherman Capote tries to honor her unfulfilled space-faring dreams by launching her ashes in a rocket that he built… but nothing goes to plan.
Chapter 1: Arrival
Sherman and his twin sister Jessica arrive at their new home, Groom Lake, Nevada, and register for school, only to be warned by the strange Principal to stay away from the school bully, Graz.
Chapter 2: Bully Allergies
When Sherman and Jess report to the school nurse’s office for their vaccinations, and Sherman meets a mysterious student who is hidden behind a curtain called Octo.
Chapter 3: Breakfast Club
Sherman and Jess enter the school cafeteria and realize they are surrounded by aliens!
Chapter 4: Close Encounters
The warnings are real…Graz is bad business and he takes an instant disliking to Sherman.
Chapter 5: Better Late Than NED
But worse than Graz, the conceited NED turns up and threatens to put Sherman and Jess in their place (in the garbage), that is, until Sonya, a pink-hued lizard, stands up for them.
Chapter 6: Saved By A Tentacle
Facing a certain drop into the bin of alien food waste, something strange saves Jess, Sherman and Sonya from their humiliating fall…a twenty-tentacled cephalopod (a “ventitent”) called…Octo!
Chapter 7: Drama King
As the school bell rings, Sherman discovers the one thing worse than being bullied by aliens…attending drama class with them. But Jessica is in her element. As their teacher recites Shakespeare, something strange (and blue) starts to materialize on the stage.
What, or who, could it be?
Chapter 8: Volunteerism
In drama class, when Sherman accidentally volunteers to play Romeo in the school play, Jessica is furious and Sherman is mortified.
Chapter 9: Homework Bound
After the disaster of drama class, how could Sherman’s day get any worse? But in Planetary Geology class, Sherman gets himself, Sonya, Octo and a moody robot kid called Houston into trouble and assigned extra homework. But why is NED so keen to join the assignment?
Chapter 11: That Lunchtime Feeling
At lunchtime, Sherman faces his toughest test yet…where to sit in the cafeteria.
Chapter 11: Pizza Night
Sherman compares notes on the first day at Area 51 with his newly demoted dad.
Chapter 12: Holy Flying Easter Egg
Sherman finds Sonya in the rocket scrapyard, and discovers that her spaceship is an egg.
Chapter 13: Houston We Have Lift Off
Sonya teaches Sherman how to fly her Eggcraft.
Chapter 14: Close Encounters of the Magma Kind
At the volcano, NED bathes himself in the river of lava. What gives?
Chapter 15: Outrunning The Air Force
Sherman tries to outrun the U.S. Air Force in the Grand Canyon, and there’s only one pilot who can inspire him to do it… Will Smith from Independence Day!
Chapter 16: NEDaggeddon
Houston shows the gang what happened to his home world, and what’s about to happen to Earth if the NEDs get their way.
Chapter 17: Pastry High
After Home Economics class, Sherman comes up with a fool-proof plan to save the world.
Chapter 18: Field of Pains
Facing certain death on the football field, a giant scorpion makes Sherman an offer he can’t refuse.
Chapter 19: If You Build It
When Sherman joins the gang in the hangar to start building the rocket racer, Houston reveals the sad source of the disguise he’s brought.
Chapter 20: School Days And Rocket Nights
Sherman finds his groove in Drama class and discovers that Sonya and Houston are becoming close.
Chapter 21: Meet The Octos
Sherman is invited over to Octo’s for dinner where he gets unsolicited dating advice from his folks.
Chapter 22: The War Of The Worlds
Sherman loiters outside of drama class trying to work up the courage to ask Juliet out on a date, but little Klaatu has an agenda of his own: Prom!
Chapter 23 (Part 1): Stranded At The Drive-In
Sherman finally starts his date with Juliet at the base’s drive-in movie theater, but he has forgotten one mission-critical component of their date…the popcorn!
Chapter 23 (Part 2): Stranded At The Drive In
Sherman goes to the concession stand in search of popcorn, but nothing goes to plan.
Chapter 24: Test Drive
Sherman and his friends finish building the rocket racer and take it for a spin. But is Sherman ready to fly?
Chapter 25: The Balcony Scene
After Sherman completes his first trial of the rocket racer, he realizes he’s got to explain the Drive-In debacle to Juliet. But when he goes to her parked spaceship, he gets the shock of a lifetime.
Chapter 26: Mentor Interruptus
We last saw Sherman climbing up the tripod leg of Juliet’s spaceship to apologize for the Drive-In debacle, only to come face to face with his mom. But how is that possible?
Chapter 27: Second Chance At A Second Chance
When Sherman tries to warn his dad about the impending invasion, he gets sent to his room…where he receives an alien visitor.
Chapter 28: The Vortex Of The Friend Zone
As Sherman prepares for his one shot to qualify for the Rocket Races, Octo has a sure-fire way for him to win…but is it too good to be true?
Chapter 29: Trial By Rocket
Sherman competes in the qualifying round of the Rocket Races…but does he have the right stuff?
Chapter 30: Dressing The Part
Sherman Capote has won a place to qualify in the upcoming Rocket Races and he’s feeling great about his role in Romeo & Juliet. But can he muster the courage to ask Juliet to the Prom?
Chapter 31: Places Please
Sherman has his big stage debut as Romeo. He and Juliet bring down the house, but someone makes an unexpected appearance that upstages them both.
Chapter 32: Star Crossed
Sherman is rightfully worried about the state of his relationship with Juliet, but Houston offers him some encouraging advice, as gleamed from anthropological documentaries like Grease, Teen Wolf, Footloose, and High School Musical. What could possibly go wrong?
Chapter 33 Part 1: Race For Your Life
Finally, the race is on…
Chapter 33 (Part 2): Race For Your Life
During the Race Finals, Graz fried Sherman’s ship and now he has to make a split-second decision about how to restart the rocket. But could it have fatal consequences?
Chapter 34: Unmasked
Sherman has won the race, but when his friends pull the Aldrin suit off of him his secret identity is revealed…and everything goes wrong.
Chapter 35: Groom Lake Redemption
Sherman is now in the base’s prison, facing an uncertain future when his Dad turns up with a comforting gift, some unexpected advice, and maybe a ventitentical way out of jail.
Chapter 36: Escape From Planet Earth
As Sherman wormholes out of prison, he gets ready to blast off into space. But he needs to find Jessica first.
Chapter 37: Invading The NED World
Sherman and his friends arrive at the NED home world, but where is everyone?
Chapter 38: Pairing Crashers
Sherman and the gang interrupt the Pairing ceremony, but with potentially fatal consequences for Sonya and her sisters.
Chapter 39 – Part 1: Escape Plan
Sherman and the gang must escape an angry swarm of NEDs. Easier said than done.
Chapter 39 – Part 2: Coming May 13th, 2020
Sherman calls his Dad to enroll him in a daring plan, but Octo is worried about interplanetary roaming charges.
Chapter 40: Sacrifice
Sherman outruns the NEDs as his father makes the wormhole plan work, but at what cost?
Chapter 41: NED or Alive
Sherman must decide whether to let the NED planet be destroyed. No pressure then!
Chapter 42: Coming May 18th, 2020
Sherman and his friends find themselves in NED’s firing line.
Chapter 43: Hero’s Welcome
As Sherman returns to Earth, the army surrounds him. Is he a wanted fugitive or a world-saving hero?
Our story concludes…
Thank you for watching these videos and for reading along with me!
I am posting this and sending it out to our middle school kiddos. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
My pleasure. I hope they enjoy it! (Feedback welcome)
Thank you, Brooke. I hope they enjoy it. Please let me know if any of your special students would like a specific shout-out.
This is great. I like how you change up the scenery…. instead of reading from the couch every day. I am going to share this with my students.
Thanks so much! I hope they like it…and the virtual tour of my house!
Thanks so much! I hope they enjoy it. I’m a bit limited as to my backgrounds because we’ve got two kids at home now, doing home-schooling, but I’ll try to change it up as much as possible. If your students have any questions /comments, please let me know. Cheers!
Your great at reading stories. I have really enjoyed it seeming as I’m stuck at home and now cant got to England to meet my baby cousin and go to my aunts wedding. Thank you for filling my free time and making me feel good. Your awesome.
Hi Georgia – I’m really sorry to hear about your cancelled travel plans. It’s so frustrating that life seems to be “on hold” right now. I’m glad my daily stories are giving you some joy, and I hope you’re staying safe.
You have made me really happy these past days. I have been helping in the house but also been bawling my eyes out. I would be on a plane right now but instead I’m stuck at home. Your stories have given me something to do. Once again, your awesome. Thank you so much. I wish i could go to England but at least I’ve got you to pull me through.
It’s such a hard time right now, but remember you’re not just “stuck” at home, you’re SAFE at home. One of the things I’ve just done is to write a list of 5 things I miss (I was supposed to see my parents next week, from Canada) but also 5 things I’m thankful/happy for.
This is a great book
Thank you so much!
This is the best book I have read
I’m so pleased you like it!!
Aww, I’m so sorry Jeff. You were probably super exited to see them [like me]. Your 5 things is a great idea though.
Hi Jeff, i had a convocation with one of my best friends Namoi. We both agreed that even though she hasn’t read your books you are a really nice and its so cool that you take the time out of your day to read to us and to answer all of our comments. Naomi says thank you for putting a smile on Georgia’s face Because of the fact that she cant go to England. Also would you please give Naomi a shout out. She has been so supporting of me and so kind. I bet she would love that. Thanks.
Hi Georgia, what a lovely and thoughtful idea! I’ll do that on today’s chapter (chapter 14).
Hi! I really liked the book Alienated and I’m going to continue to watch all the videos up until chapter 14:) Thank you for reading this for everyone. And Georgia I’m sorry I can relate because I was supposed to leave for Spain tomorrow but of course I can’t!:( Anyway I’m happy you decided to read this book because it’s very interesting!! :)))))
Hi! I really liked the book Alienated and I’m going to continue to watch all the videos up until chapter 14:) Thank you for reading this for everyone. And Georgia I’m sorry I can relate because I was supposed to leave for Spain tomorrow but of course I can’t!:( Anyway, this book is very interesting!! :)))))
Thank you so much! I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I’ll do chapter 15 today and resume next week with more. Sorry to hear about your cancelled trip to Spain, but stay in, stay safe and take care.
Omg thank you. Naomi is so happy and that has made her day. Thank you so much.
I’m so pleased! She’s very lucky to have a best friend in you!
Hello I love hearing you read the book it so fun to listen to!
Thanks so much! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! Stay safe.
For some reason it said I need a G suite account so I can’t watch chapter 16 and 17
Hmm, that’s very strange. I put them up on youtube (per normal). Maybe try from a different device? (like your phone instead of computer).
Hi Keegan. Is it working now?
The book is so good I love it!
I’m so pleased you’re enjoying it!!
Your book is super good I’m on chapter 12
I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!!
I’ve listened in to the first few chapters and am very much enjoying the story!
I’m a teacher in Australia and am keen to get my students in isolation to listen to your story also. I have a couple of students who will be working offline, so I’m wondering if there are any stockists of the novel in Australia? Amazon aren’t currently shipping to Aus due to high demand (great news for you!).
Thanks again for your efforts, all the best!
Hi Michael – Thanks for listening along and for the support. The book isn’t currently published in Australia, but I did find this link: https://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Alienated-Jeff-Norton/9781911195962
Is that helpful / useful?
If it doesn’t work, let me know and perhaps for the price of the postage, I could mail you a handful of my author copies so that your offline students can read along? I wouldn’t want them to miss out.
Will you be posting chapter 20 soon?
It’s just gone live! Enjoy!
The book is amazing and I can’t stop listening to it I am very happy that you took the time to read to use thank you so much. (^_^)
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for letting me know how much you’re enjoying it. Nearly 1/2 way through now! I hope you’re staying safe and keeping healthy.
WHY DID SHE LEAVE WITH NEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!?!!?!?!??
I know! It’s the worst! But they are from the same galactic social strata and all that. Plus, Sherm did sneak out without actually telling her where he was going, so perhaps she felt abandoned. But the plot thickens…
My 5th-grade students are loving this book!! We started when you had several chapters out and I assigned 2 chapters a day. Yesterday I posted chapters 22 and 23. I was on ZOOM with them and they asked for the second part of 23. I didn’t realize that it had two parts when I assigned it. Then they asked if I could also post chapters 24 and 25 today. I said “sure”. Cheers came from so many students. That is what I call a success!! However, I went to the website and it appears we are caught up. Chapter 24 will have to wait until tomorrow. I just want to say that when you can engage kids to want more, you have nailed it!! Great job, Jeff, and thank you for making this available for the students in this time of difficulty. What a gift. The students in Apple Valley, MN from Mrs. Balistreri’s class can’t thank you enough!!!!
Thank you so much for your note, it really means a lot to me! And huge thanks for everything you’re doing to keep your students engaged during these times (I have a 5th grader myself!). I’m just uploading chapter 24 now (it’s a long one). I’ll give you and the class a shout out tomorrow…anything special I should mention? (like do you guys have a class nick name or anything?)
The turbo tortoises
Hi Mrs. Balistreri, just to let you know that the new chapter is live now and is dedicated to your class! I hope I pronounced your surname correctly. 🙂
I missed your note before the shout out. But it was perfect. I am posting the chapter with the shout out tomorrow so the kids that haven’t heard it yet will be so excited. Funny, I just noticed that I had 4 of my students write on your blog thanking you. I am so proud of them for taking that time! It appears they are going ahead and getting to the chapters before I link them on my lesson because they posted in our class discussion board about the shout out and were beyond thrilled! They will NEVER forget this and neither will I!! Thank you again. Excited to keep listening.
I love this book. But it won’t let me watch chapter 23(Part 1)
I did find how to watch it I had to be in full screen.
I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I’m not sure why some people are having trouble with the videos, perhaps a glitch on youtube. You might be best to watch via the youtube playlist itself (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLydA9K-N-Ep4G3XOVRjUXzsdvA7VkcWwY)
Thanks for watching! I just posted chapter 24.
My son, Rhett, and I have been listening for a few weeks. We first discovered your site after seeing it on wideopenschool.org. You were already on chapter 11 so we spent the whole morning catching up! Your book is amazing! Thank you for taking the time to read it chapter by chapter. Rhett is trying to get his 5th grade classmates to listen too, so maybe you could give a shout out to Mrs. Wood’s 5th grade class at Midway in Powder Springs, Georgia to peak their interest. 🙂
Thank you again for bringing a whole lot of joy to our family!
Hi Melissa! Thanks so much for reaching out. My eldest son is also in grade 5…it’s a great age. I’ll definitely give Mrs. Wood’s class a shout-out. I hope Rhett is enjoying the story and you guys are doing ok and staying safe. Give Rhett a big hello from me! Cheers from London!
Hi again, Melissa. I’ve just uploaded chapter 30 and done a specific shout out to Mrs.Wood’s class (and mentioned Rhett…I hope that’s ok).
Thank you!!!! Your blog link has been posted on the school’s facebook page!!!
oh, that’s cool. thank you!
Thank you!!!! Your blog link has been posted on the school’s facebook page!!!
Thank you so much for the time you have spent creating such a meaningful experience for my pupils.
It’s my pleasure! I really hope they enjoy it. If they have questions, feel free to reach out. Cofion cynhesaf, Jeff 🙂