Myles's Reviews > My Teacher is an Alien

My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville
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's review
Sep 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: skiffy, kids-stuff
Read on September 23, 2011

I have had a rough week, and yesterday was a particularly bad day in said rough week. Don't worry, this won't be a blogreads post I just needed to get that out as a reason to get up at 1am and read this and My Teacher Fried My Brains. Coville, like many of the great authors of my childhood, is delicious delicious junk food. These books especially are like the Sour Patch Kids my brother and I would devour until our tongues bled. They're awesome, but you can't taste anything for a week or so afterwords.

I originally read Fried before this one, it had the catchier cover, but nothing can touch this book's deft use of piccolo in the final climax.

...So realistically this book doesn't have as much as I remembered. Susan Simmons makes an alarming disocovery about her teacher (view spoiler) and dares only tell class brain Peter Thompson at first because nobody but that outcast would believe her. Actually, that's a lie. The rest of the 6th grade pretty readily believes it, for no good reason they completely believe that Mr. Smith is an alien. This is a case where Coville really let the story outpace is development of it, even if you take into account these books were likely meant for a grade or two below those reading Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.

But even though Coville skimps on story development, simply hopping from one incident to another, he does do a surprisingly good job at outlining the motivations of Duncan Dougall (the bully who is the central character of Fried) and the troubled home life of Peter. There are no clear details given but you're left with a clear sense that something is wrong, especially contrasted with the happy home life of Susan. It's a good transitional chapter book for kids that slyly puts in good messages with genre conventions that will hopefully prepare kids, as it prepared me, for thoughtful science fiction down the road.
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