Cover image for What happened on Planet Kid
What happened on Planet Kid
Conly, Jane Leslie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, 1999.

Physical Description:
216 pages ; 22 cm
To help her deal with her separation from her family, worry about her mother's serious operation, and suspicions about a new friend's abusive father, twelve-year-old Dawn creates an imaginary world while spending the summer of 1958 with her great-aunt and uncle in rural North Carolina.
Reading Level:
530 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.8 5.0 39896.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.4 11 Quiz: 21735 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A moving story of the strength and fragility of children in difficult situations, and of the power of imagination.

Twelve-year-old Dawn is spending the summer on her aunt and uncle's farm while her mother recovers from a serious operation at home in Washington, D.C. Life in the country is very different from what Dawn is used to. She spends most of her free time practicing her curve ball and hanging out with Charlotte, who lives down the road. Together, the girls create an imaginary world: Planet Kid. It is special place, their own private hideaway, and no one else is allowed in without an invitation.

As one seemingly carefree summer day rolls into another, however, the world of adults threatens to intrude. Issues of race, as well as Dawn's fears about her mother's illness, rise to the surface. Worst of all, Dawn begins to suspect that Charlotte's father is not merely strict with his family, but abusive. When Planet Kid is no longer a refuge, where can they turn?

Author Notes

Jane Leslie Conly is a best-selling author whose works are continually met with the highest literary praise. Among her books are 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 was a sequel to the Newbery Medal winner written by her father, Robert C. O'Brien.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-8. Twelve-year-old Dawn has every intention of being the first female pitcher in the major leagues, and she practices every day during the summer she spends on a farm with her Aunt Van and Uncle Moody. She practices her piano, too, and the rhythms of both keep her from missing her family too much; her father is away helping her artist mother learn to walk again after an operation. Dawn's secure affection for her family is reflected in the sweetness with which she handles Charlotte, a neighbor with a smart mouth and a lot of troubles, and Delbert, a shy younger boy. Charlotte and Dawn invent Planet Kid, where they imagine and dream. Dawn doesn't quite get Charlotte's fire-and-brimstone father, and she sees clearly what others have missed--Charlotte, her mother, and her brothers have bruises to hide. The power of the story, however, lies in its evocation of languorous summer as the backdrop for these kids' discovery of different truths and pain. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Dawn, 12, is spending the summer of 1958 on Aunt Van and Uncle Moody's farm while her mother undergoes a serious operation back home in Washington, DC. Dawn practices her pitching every morning against the barn wall, emulating her hero, Senator's pitcher Camilo Pascual; she pretends to practice the piano everyday while really teaching her new friend Delbert how to play. Delbert, an African-American youngster who is also spending the summer with relatives, stutters and changes his name weekly to that of his latest hero. Dawn spends most of her time with Charlotte, who comes from a poor family and is surrounded by rowdy brothers. Dawn develops a crush on one of the brothers and slowly realizes that there are serious problems when she sees repeated evidence of the fact that Charlotte's father brutally beats his wife and children. The tension of wondering what will happen to this family keeps the story moving as does Conly's skillful, lyrical writing. Issues of abuse, religion, and racial prejudice are addressed, but not confronted, by likable, well-developed characters. Dawn's voice is consistent and believable, and the setting is distant enough for comfort and safety. Perhaps too many issues arise during Dawn's summer away from home, but Conly manages to pull the story off by caring for her characters and knowing the crises of children's middle years.-Judith Everitt, Orchard Hill Elementary School, Skillman, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.