Cover image for The exchange student
The exchange student
Gilmore, Kate.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Physical Description:
217 pages ; 22 cm
When her mother arranges to host one of the young people coming to Earth from Chela, Daria is both pleased and intrigued by the keen interest shown by the Chelan in her work breeding endangered species.
Reading Level:
950 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.4 9.0 2478.

Reading Counts RC High School 8.1 13 Quiz: 20383 Guided reading level: NR.
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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What a time for an exchange student to arrive, Daria thought, especially one from another planet! Daria is one of Earth's youngest licensed breeders of endangered species, and she has enough to do caring for her menagerie without having to cope with Fen. Besides his color-shifting and endless questions, there is something about the way the lanky alien looks at her animals and his stubborn, even hostile refusal to talk about the creatures of his own world that makes Daria nervous. Fen, on the other hand, can't be happier with his new Earth family. Hoping for one pet, he lands in a zoo. Not one of his fellow exchange students, living in homes scattered across the Earth, has been as lucky, but each has found at least one animal to love, and all cherish the same wild, mysterious dream. With a sharp eye for human, alien, and animal ways, Kate Gilmore has written a challenging tale.

Author Notes

Kate Gilmore is the author of several novels for young readers. Her research for The Exchange Student did not involve interplanetary travel, but she did visit primate houses and zoos in many cities and talked with scientists about binturongs and fennec foxes.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. Gilmore brings new meaning to the concept of foreign-exchange students when she transplants nine teens from the planet Chela to Earth. Fen, a seven-foot alien with a passion for animals and problems controlling his emotion-produced color shifts, lands with a seemingly ideal family. The Wells host a breeding zoo for endangered animals, which is run by their 16-year-old daughter, Daria. But even in 2094, an alien and an earthling have communication problems. Fen is evasive and secretive about the animal life on his planet; Daria is curious. Gilmore makes a farfetched premise seem more reasonable with everyday details of life in the twenty-first century, sympathetic characters, and logical consequences. Add some lessons on ecology, and you've got a story that will appeal to readers on many levels. --Candace Smith

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.