The two lower covers are European translations.
Reviews and awards:
The Only Alien on the Planet An ALA Best Book for 1995, also an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for reluctant readers.
Michigan Library Association's Best Book of the Year for 1996. California Young Readers' Medal.
This book is included on the list of New York Public Libraries' Prestigious Books for Young Adults, the Texas Lone Star reading list, the Nebraska Golden Sower and Corn Huskers' lists, and has been among the nominees for the Dorothy Canfield Fischer Award of Vermont, the Utah Children's Choice Award, the New Jersey Garden State Teen Book award, the Rebecca Caudill Award (Ill), the Volunteer State Award (Tenn) and the Iowa Teen Award.
The thick wall an abused teenager builds between himself and the world is penetrated at last by an extraordinary pair of friends,
Though a brilliant student, Smitty Tibbs never speaks, never responds, never even makes eye contact. When Caulder, Smitty’s loyal defender since childhood, persuades new neighbor and classmate Ginny to meet him, she is at once disturbed and fascinated by his strangeness. After she gains a small but definite reaction from him, Caulder excitedly throws them together, hoping to break the ice at last. Ginny is only partially willing to go along, knowing that she and Caulder might be biting off more than they can chew. Drawing Smitty out becomes painful for all concerned —especially after he finds the will to seek professional help and confesses that his older brother Russell subjected him to years of clever persecution, invisible to all but the two brothers Smitty’s slow, agonizing recovery is convincingly handled (Russell's final unmasking less so), but the real strength of this book lies in the complex, sensitively drawn relationships, when Ginny marvels at the intricate, seemingly effortless way she and her family (and a rare and marvelous family it is, too) and friends interact, readers will certainly marvel with her—and will be left with a better appreciation for the richness of their own social and emotional landscapes.
A strong book with healing at the end, memorable for its spirited friendships and unpreachy soul-searching. (Fiction, 12^-)
The Center for Children’s Books Champaign, IL
RANDLE, KRISTEN D. The Only Alien on the Planet. Scholastic, 1995 ISBN 0-590-46309-8 $14.95 Reviewed from galleys
A Recommended Book:
Ginny is fascinated by Smitty Tibbs, a bright senior classmate who lives in a state of profound self-imposed silence and withdrawal. Caulder, Ginny's outgoing neighbor, easily enlists her help in his bumbling but well-intentioned efforts to reach "the Alien," whom he has long considered his friend; together they make some progress in guiding Smitty's first tentative steps into a wider social circle. But when Ginny makes an impetuous move on Smitty, he is so deeply shaken that he finally acknowledges his need for professional help to face his demons—the result of physical and psychological abuse by his older brother. In the hands of a less capable storyteller, Smitty may have miraculously emerged from his reclusive state; instead he recovers by fits and starts, aided by his psychiatrist, his awkward and impatient friends, and his parents, who must overcome their own delusions concerning the older son to save the younger. The credibility of the account goes far toward anchoring the breathless tone of the novel and the heroine's tendency to over-analyze. This intelligently, if sentimentally, handled tale should appeal to readers who bask in the heat of a good emotional crisis. EB
Gr. 8-12. Ginny Christianson had been a happy person: "happy, cheerful, easygoing, reasonably popular even." When her family suddenly relocates and a beloved older brother leaves for college at the same time--well, let's just say Ginny is a "displaced person." As life manages to go on, and fun, caring new friends begin to fill the gap, a strange boy at school captures Ginny's attention. Smitty Tibbs is a brilliant, handsome boy who never speaks. He is known as the Alien and lives in total isolation from emotion and communication--tolerated by the other students but pretty much left alone. Meanwhile, Ginny's new friend Caulder has long been fascinated with Smitty and is determined to break through to him. Together Caulder and Ginny take Smitty in and begin to probe at the barriers he has thrown up, the abuse he has suffered, and the resulting silence into which he's retreated. Ginny's deft and engaging narration reveals a delightful and totally believable teen. The otherwise strongly drawn characters sometimes delve into dialogue that sounds like social-work parlance, but we can forgive because the overall impact of this psychological novel is so powerful. Anne O'Malley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
New student Ginny is intrigued by the handsome alien in her home room? No, this is not a science fiction novel. Smitty (real name Michael) is known to his schoolmates as "The Alien" because of his affectless appearance and complete silence. Soon, Ginny and Smitty's longtime protector, Caulder, team up to try and crack his shell. They get much more than they bargain for when they drag him along on old-movie outings; as a none-too-subtle plot device, the first turns out to be The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, the second, East of Eden. Smitty walks out of both, for it turns out that he was almost fatally abused by his older brother, who also convinced him that he would die if he spoke to anyone. With the help of Ginny, Caulder and a wise and sympathetic therapist, Smitty emerges from this psychological curse, and he and Ginny even begin a tentative romantic relationship. Randle (Why Did Grandma Have to Die?) unfortunately builds her otherwise well-crafted novel around an uncharacteristic response to abuse. Under his pain, Smitty is totally honest and caring—a very romantic figure, but not one likely to be found in the real world. Ages 12-up. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Midwest Book Review:
This, too, appeared some time ago but also deserves on going mention as an excellent story. A boy who never speaks but who participates silently in his classes receives newfound attention from new girl in school Ginny, who finds him fascinating. When Ginny and her new friend Caulder move beyond distant relationships to probe underlying emotions, they release a cauldron of feelings which once unlocked may prove impossible to reverse. Randle creates a sensitive, believable story of sibling abuse. Camelot Jane Yolen, Editor Philomel 0-399-22540-4 $19. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.