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The Rudest Alien on Earth

The Rudest Alien on Earth

by Jane Leslie Conly

Earth isn’t just another planet—it might be a place to call home

In Oluu’s world, the young are programmed to take advice from the Wise Ones, load it into their systems, and follow it. Oluu does not always run so smoothly, and the Wise Ones worry about her carelessness. In spite of these concerns, Oluu is given a chance to redeem herself


Earth isn’t just another planet—it might be a place to call home

In Oluu’s world, the young are programmed to take advice from the Wise Ones, load it into their systems, and follow it. Oluu does not always run so smoothly, and the Wise Ones worry about her carelessness. In spite of these concerns, Oluu is given a chance to redeem herself when she is sent on a research mission to Earth. This time, however, she must follow rules, or face the consequences.

Oluu takes on several different forms while she begins to learn about life on Earth. When she first meets Molly Harkin, she is an energetic Border collie, and although Molly tries to look out for her new and unusual dog friend, Oluu gets into trouble before long and must choose a new form. She spends time as a bird, and, to Molly’s delight, as a pony. But no matter which form she takes, Oluu can’t seem to help attracting dangerous attention. When a boy named Jack becomes a little too interested in a certain pony, Molly doesn’t know whether she’ll ever see either of them again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Oluu, an independent-minded, impulsive young alien, lands on a Vermont farm and, in very short order, breaks every rule established by the Wise Ones in her galaxy. Rather than "wait and watch," for example, the invisible Oluu decides to assume the shape of the border collie she spies, which belongs to 10-year-old Molly's family. Molly, of course, is amazed when the new dog mimics her speech and eventually begins communicating with her in English. When the dog incarnation gets Oluu into trouble, she changes into a bird; subsequent identities include a fly, pony, cat, etc. Violating more rules ("Tell no one"; "Do not under any circumstances form an attachment to the subject matter"), Oluu reveals her identity and befriends not only Molly but her lonely, brainy friend Jack, who shares Oluu's math prowess. Though some aspects of Conly's (Crazy Lady!) plot may spark readers' imagination especially as Molly and Jack try to explain to their new pal such concepts as imagination, holidays and computers the narrative grows somewhat sluggish and the fantasy elements are underdeveloped. The explanation for Oluu's "mission," for example, feels skimpy, while the denouement may disappoint the audience. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Although Conly is able to portray fairly well the mind of Oluu, the clueless visitor to Earth, and the mentalities of Molly and Jack, the humans who encounter her, the story really has no apparent plot. Young adults with a particular interest in aliens or even animals might find the story enjoyable, but it would probably be of little interest to those who prefer a better story line. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2002, Henry Holt, 256p,
— Alison Daniels, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Oluu is a capricious, shape-shifting alien sent to Earth on a fact-finding mission. She has rules to follow-keep your identity secret, don't get attached to your subjects, check in daily, and so on. She ignores them all, befriending humans and going incommunicado for days on end. The narrative follows a familiar "fish-out-of-water" formula, complete with misunderstandings that are more troubling than hilarious, all leading up to the moment when Oluu comes to love her young companions and chooses to assume human form permanently so that she can start over as an earthling. Thematically, the story invites readers to cast a critical gaze on humanity. Unfortunately, the dialogue is spotty and the characterization is weak. Also, too much of Conly's plot is implausible at best and downright facile at worst. "You're a shape shifter! And you've come from another planet, to visit us!" young Jack aptly concludes after a notably brief one-sided exchange with Oluu, who is at that time a cat. Later, he tells a strange old lady that he and his cat are "on our way to join the circus. If you'll give us food, we'll show you awesome stunts." The notion that Jack would panhandle from a rumpled old woman leaning out of a run-down shack is a stretch, and contemporary kids do not run away to the circus any more than they fasten their shoes with buttonhooks.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite the promising title, the rudest alien turns out to be the most confused alien, and she occupies a correspondingly confused text. Oluu, an alien from an unidentified planet and civilization, has landed on Earth for a never-defined mission. She is apparently a mechanical being but is able, by means of a process never described, to assume the form of organic beings for the purposes of fitting in with the local fauna. In her first disguise as a dog, she makes friends with Molly, the daughter of a Vermont dairy farmer. Misadventure after misadventure causes Oluu to change forms over and over, and eventually she reveals herself to Molly's on-again, off-again friend Jack, as well. This, of course, goes strictly against her instructions, as does her growing attachment to the two children-and the results are predictably difficult for all three. The reader learns that Oluu is from a collectivist civilization, one in which individual thought and choice are subordinate to the maintenance of a group equilibrium; she delivers the occasional sharp comment regarding humanity's propensity to destroy the common good. But aside from her affection for Jack and Molly, which leads her vaguely to question some of her assumptions, she never exhibits any real philosophical differences with her home culture, so there is no real struggle of beliefs to temper Oluu's character-just a certain fecklessness. The children, too, are not terribly well-developed characters, although Jack shows some promise of complexity, and despite a revolving limited third-person focus on each of the three throughout the narrative, not one of them truly comes alive. Combine the murkiness of character development with a patentfailure to explain the whys and hows of Oluu's existence-a sine qua non of science fiction-and Conly (What Happened on Planet Kid, 2000, etc.) comes up with a good title-but little else. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.84(w) x 10.14(h) x 1.01(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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Read an Excerpt

"When Oluu came to Earth, she did not keep the form of her own body. Instead she landed invisible in the hayfield of a dairy farm in Northern Vermont. Of course she didn’t know the name of the place she had come to, or what a hayfield was, or a farm; but that didn’t trouble her, because she’d never been inclined to worry."

—from The Rudest Alien on Earth

Meet the Author

Jane Leslie Conly is a best-selling author whose works include the critically acclaimed Trout Summer (an ALA Notable and Best Book for Young Adults), and While No One Was Watching. She is also the author of the Newbery Honor book, Crazy Lady!, as well as Racso and the Rats of NIMH, which is a sequel to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the Newbery Medal–winner written by her father, Robert C. O’Brien.

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