Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Only Alien on the Planet

Bibliographic Information: Randle, K. D.  (2009).  The only alien on the planet.  Naperville: Sourcebooks.

Plot Summary: Seventeen year old Ginny Christianson would give anything to keep her parents from uprooting her and her three brothers in a move east coast. On top of it all, Ginny's best friend, her older brother Paul, has left for his first year of college; essentially abandoning her. Ginny is soon forced to adapt to things in her new home as she enrolls in the local high school for her senior year. In the process Ginny makes friends with the popular Hally and her new next door neighbor, Caulder. Everything is going great for Ginny until she becomes obsessed with the beautiful anomaly known as "The Alien," or Smitty Tibbs.  Smitty is known as "The Alien" because he hasn't spoken or reacted to the world around him since a traumatic experience at the age of two. Caulder and Ginny make it their mission to pull Smitty into their world, until their actions are met with serious consequences.

Critical Evaluation: One of the biggest themes in
The Only Alien on the Planet is that of  the characters trying to find or establish some sense of "normalcy." Ginny, or Virginia, Christianson, the protagonist of  The Only Alien on the Planet, tells the story from her point of view. Ginny begins her narrative wanting to constantly find the "norm" in her life, the balance that sets her apart from other unbalanced individuals. Ginny's world is shaken when her parents make an unexpected move to the east coast and leave their kids mostly in their own care while they (the parents) work hard to establish their business in the new town. To Ginny this symbolizes a move away from the norm, a fracture in the family unit. Ginny is further forced to reanalyze her standards of what she thinks is "normal" when she meets the beautiful and mysterious figure of Smitty Tibbs. Through Smitty, Ginny begins to understand that "normal" is different for each and every person. This fact forces her to reexamine her own life and really understand just how lucky she really is. Ginny is able to understand that her small discomforts do not take away from the love and support that her parents present to her, but rather show the lengths her parents will go to make a great life for her and her brothers. This realization changes the entire tone of the plot as Ginny works hard to both understand the misfortunes in Smitty's life and the blessings in her own life. The ending message of this book may be one of not only learning to accept others, but of also recognizing the great things in one's own life. 

Reader’s Annotation:
Ginny and Caulder learn that some mysteries are meant to be left alone.
Information About the Author: Kristen D. Randle lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and animals (five horses and two dogs) (Randle, 2012). She helps her husband manage a sound recording studio which has a series of ongoing projects (Randle, 2012). Randle's last few years have been spent with her children and grandchildren chaperoning choir tours and having fun (Randle, 2012).  Randle is a part of the Church of Latter Day Saints and quotes it as influencing both her personal relationships and her work (Randle, 2012).

Randle's works include: The Gardner,
Who can Ginny Trust—And Why Would She Even Try?, Breaking Rank, The Golden Boy, and The Lady and the Fool (Randle, 2012) 

Contemporary, Romance, Mystery and Suspense

Mental Illness, Suicide and Self-destruction
Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

1). What does it mean to not be "the only alien on the planet?"

2). What kind of religious allusions are made throughout the text?
3). Why does Smitty finally respond to Ginny?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Gr. 8-12 (O'Malley, 1995)

Challenge Issues: Has some themes of suicide and abuse. I would use the following items to defend this book if it was ever challenged:

1) Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2) Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - (  Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3) Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4) Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5) Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6) Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?:
This book is finally back in print and is an excellent addition to my collection. This story has components from a number of different genres and will keep any reader interested as they try to figure out the mystery of Smitty Tibbs.

Reference Page:

O'Malley, A.  (1995) Booklist review.  Retrieved August 5, 2012 from

Randle, K. A.  (2012).  Bio. Retrieved August 5, 2012 from

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