Jane Leslie Conly, Author . Holt $16.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6069-0

Oluu, an independent-minded, impulsive young alien, lands on a Vermont farm and, in very short order, breaks every rule established by the Wise Ones in her galaxy. Rather than "wait and watch," for example, the invisible Oluu decides to assume the shape of the border collie she spies, which belongs to 10-year-old Molly's family. Molly, of course, is amazed when the new dog mimics her speech and eventually begins communicating with her in English. When the dog incarnation gets Oluu into trouble, she changes into a bird; subsequent identities include a fly, pony, cat, etc. Violating more rules ("Tell no one"; "Do not under any circumstances form an attachment to the subject matter"), Oluu reveals her identity and befriends not only Molly but her lonely, brainy friend Jack, who shares Oluu's math prowess. Though some aspects of Conly's (Crazy Lady!) plot may spark readers' imagination—especially as Molly and Jack try to explain to their new pal such concepts as imagination, holidays and computers—the narrative grows somewhat sluggish and the fantasy elements are underdeveloped. The explanation for Oluu's "mission," for example, feels skimpy, while the denouement may disappoint the audience. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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