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The exchange student

by Kate Gilmore


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Gr 7-10-As part of a cultural exchange in 2094, nine teens from the planet Chela are sent to Earth to live with host families. Tall Fen, who cloaks himself in the color grey to hide his emotions, arrives to stay with the Wells family. Daria Wells, 16, is a registered zookeeper. Both the Terran and Chelan worlds have experienced disasters, though only the Terrans will discuss their environmental crash when global warming led to massive extinction of animals. To restore their dwindling populations, Earth has begun an intensive rebuilding program of which Daria is a part. It's obvious that Fen loves animals, though no one suspects the lengths to which he will go to help the Chelans restock the creatures his people exterminated through hunting and misuse of resources. The willingness of two dissimilar planets to work together is paralleled by the teens, with secretive Fen, whose coloration changes in a chameleonlike manner depending on his emotion, matched against the practical, industrious, and very fair-skinned Daria. Alien exchange students and environmental protection are two very real possibilities in this futuristic tale that should appeal to both science fiction fans and nature lovers. It will be particularly enjoyed by fans of Annette Curtis Klause's Alien Secrets (Delacorte, 1993) or Scott Russell Sanders's The Engineer of Beasts (Orchard, 1988; o.p.).-Pam Spencer, Young Adult Literature Specialist, Virginia Beach, VA

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