Mike Kalmbach's Reviews > My Teacher is an Alien

My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville
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Dec 20, 11

bookshelves: middle-grade, childrens, science-fiction, surprise-ending, owned, aliens, all-time-favorite, female-protagonist
Recommended to Mike by: Steve Juhas
Recommended for: middle grade students, especially those who have ever felt like an outcast
Read from December 18 to 19, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 20

This book single-handedly made me fall in love with science fiction when I was in fourth grade (thanks, Mr. Juhas!). I reread this book dozens of times as a kid, but reread it for the first time in more than a decade over the last couple of nights.

One of the things I'd forgotten was that this book is written from the perspective of a sixth grade girl named Susan. In my opinion, her gender wasn't all that important to the story, but it's interesting to note that Coville chose to write from a girl's perspective for a science fiction story. For the time period, I don't recall that being done often.

Another reason I believe I forgot about Susan was that I had strongly identified with Peter as a child (and that was probably the reason Mr. Juhas had recommended the book to me).

As a writer, one of the things I look for is why I like a book, and this book has many lessons to offer. For example:

- most (if not all) of the chapters end on a cliffhanger, making the book hard to put down.
- there are multiple character triangles (Susan, Peter, Broxholm; Susan, Ms. Schwarz, and Mr. Smith; Susan, Peter, Duncan) that keep the story interesting. Each character has clear, individual motivations.
- the hidden messages deal with fears virtually every middle school student has: sometimes it's hard to broach tough subjects with parents, fear of how peers will react, dealing with schoolyard bullies, etc.

I'd recommend this book to any middle grade student who's ever felt like an outcast.
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