Hanna doesn't want to be on a spaceship, but she has to admit that it was better than being where she is now. She was in an escape pod that was accidentally launched, and now she's on a strange planet, being kept as a pet by two very odd creatures. We get to know Hanna pretty well, but the best thing about this book is getting to know Shem and Cheko, the aliens who are at home on this planet.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Shem and Cheko may have tails, gills, and crablike pincers, but they bicker just like any other brother and sister in this well-developed sci-fi story by the author of Really No Big Deal (Viking, 1994). When they come upon a strange, four-limbed creature in the forest, Cheko's joy at finding something to relieve her boredom overwhelmes Shem's caution; rather than take it to their elders, the two hide it in a cave and treat it as a pet. ``It,'' in fact, is Hanna, a sullen human teen accidentally ejected from a passing starship-wishing, too late, that she'd paid more attention in her Survival and First Contact classes. Despite hilarious misunderstandings-Shem and Cheko think Hanna is male and never are enlightened-and constant arguing, the three manage to share adventures both mild and wild. Hanna ends up rescuing her ``Indigie'' friends as well as the human adult sent to rescue her, and, to Cheko's disgust, Shem develops an interest in an attractive female ``Outsider'' from a neighboring settlement. Bechard constructs a believable, complex setting for her characters, a world presided over by sentient trees and beset with problems that are not neatly solved at the end. Put this next to Annette Klause's Alien Secrets (Delacorte, 1993) as a satisfying reminder that juvenile science fiction needn't be simplistic.-John Peters, New York Public Library
Mary Harris Veeder
Hanna, a Terran, accidentally lands on a new planet without her family. Before she can be rescued, she is found by Shem and Cheko, a brother and sister who appear rather lizardlike to earthly eyes. In chapters that alternate Hanna's point of view with Shem's and Cheko's, readers see how different each culture seems to a member of the other; gender, facial gestures, food, and family all appear one way to insiders and another to outsiders. The plot's premise is that some feeling of friendship can still pass between the groups, but that's finally less interesting than the what-if premise, which takes "diversity training" into action. Brother-sister interaction will seem familiar, but the story will appeal most to readers who like speculative sf.