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My Teacher Glows in the Dark by Bruce…
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My Teacher Glows in the Dark (1991)

by Bruce Coville

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465322,298 (3.63)7
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Odd, the workings of serendipity. This came off the pile just now immediately after Jack McDevitt's Cauldron, and I realize that in a way they're not so dissimilar in terms of plot. This time it's a kid, Peter, who's transported to the far reaches of the galaxy, where He Has Adventures. A mighty difference is that this book can't be more than about 20% of the length of McDevitt's. It's also far more lightly written (and has better jokes). One could make the same sort of criticisms of it, I guess, as I have of Cauldron, yet in this instance, long before I'd had a chance to weary of the lack of a proper plot, I'd finished the book. No classic, but I'll be looking out for others in the series. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Coville, B. (1991). My Teacher Glows in the Dark; New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.

What are the fantasy elements of the story?

There is an abundance of make believe, science fiction elements in Coville’s My Teacher Glows in the Dark. It is a story that has green-skinned, orange eyed glow-in-the-dark aliens, futuristic space machines, and spaceships that can transport a child like Peter Thompson, the main character, into outer space.

How has the author made the story believable?

The author has not made the story believable as much as he has made it fascinating particularly for children with an interest in astronomy, exploration, adventure, and the concept of extra-terrestrial life. Any reader can get the sense of the sensational, sci-fi character of Coville’s his stories by their titles: “My Teacher is an Alien,” “My Teacher Fried my Brain, Aliens Stole My Homework,” “Aliens Stole My Body,” and others.
My Teacher Glows in the Dark has a captivating plot that involves Peter Thompson’s story about his transportation from earth to an alien world somewhere in the far reaches of space. Certainly the story is not believable in the sense that most children will see the events and characters as realistic, as things that could actually take place in the real world; but it definitely sets forth a highly-entertaining story about bizarre aliens interacting with humans, alien worlds, and the survival of planet earth. These are the kinds of things that can easily captivate the interest and imaginations of young readers.

Is the story logical and consistent within the framework established by the author? Explain why or why not.

My Teacher Glows in the Dark fills the gap between My Teacher is an Alien and My Teacher Fried My Brain. The story is consistent with the other stories in so far as it maintains the same kind of fanciful, out-of-this world scenarios involving weird space aliens that disguise themselves as teachers, only, this time, the survival of planet earth is at stake, and Peter Thompson is caught in the middle of it all.

Is the plot original and ingenious? What elements are particularly original?

Of course, the book is similar to other science fiction stories in that it deals with futuristic space machines and alien cultures. But instead of a story about aliens invading planet earth, My Teacher Glows in the Dark focuses more on a human child’s experience visiting an alien world, where an interplanetary council of aliens is trying to decide the fate of planet Earth. Will they destroy the planet and all people in it? The plot is original in that it features Peter, a boy of only 12 years old, who does everything he can to save the planet he left behind.

Is there a universal truth underlying the metaphor of the fantasy? What universal truth does the fantasy convey?

The universal truth underlying the science fiction genre is perhaps communicated indirectly through the role of a boy so young being involved with the salvation of the planet. Maybe this speaks to the truth that, often times, even a seemingly insignificant person of small stature can have a big impact on the surrounding world. In other words, anyone, no matter how small or how young, can make a real difference in the world.

How does the story compare with other books of the same kind or by the same author?

My Teacher Glows in the Dark is the third book in a series, filling the gap between book one—My Teacher is an Alien—and book two—My Teacher Friend My Brains. It is probably the most entertaining of the three books because the fate of planet earth is in jeopardy from the threat of distant alien life forms. This makes the book more intriguing than the other two, although they are equally creative.
  PatrickNavas | Jul 24, 2010 |
My Teacher Glows in the Dark is the third book in the My Teacher Is an Alien series. The book describes the adventures of Peter Thompson after he left the Earth with the alien Broxholm at the end of My Teacher Is an Alien. The book is told from Peter's perspective, making him the third viewpoint character in the series, the first two having been told from the perspective of Susan Simmons and Duncan Dougal respectively.

The action starts in Kennituck Falls, as Peter and Broxholm evade those who are trying to capture the alien, quickly reaching Broxholm's ship and leaving the Earth. They quickly travel to the far side of the Moon and rendezvous with the starship New Jersey (so named because the ship is the same size as New Jersey). Once on board, Peter is subjected to some rather unsettling albeit benign boarding procedures and finds himself in a truly alien world. Peter is introduced to the alien Hoo-Lan who undertakes to serve as Peter's teacher to introduce Peter to the intergalactic society he has joined. Hoo-Lan can glow in the dark, giving the book its title, although this doesn't become a plot point (making this the only book in the series where the title isn't a plot point).

Peter quickly learns that the galaxy is stranger than he had previously believed, Peter also discovers that the assembled alien races think humanity is uncivilized and dangerous. Uncivilized because we are unkind to one another: allowing starvation and deprivation, engaging in wars, destroying our environment, and generally behaving badly. Dangerous because we apparently have the largest brains (although we apparently don't use them to their full potential) and are close to discovering the secret of interstellar space flight. This has led the aliens to study Earth to find out why we are the way we are, and divided the aliens into faction that variously believe Earth should be left alone, conquered, quarantined, or destroyed.

Peter agrees to have his brain examined, in an effort to determine if humanity's behavior is due to a biological condition. After much study, the aliens discover that Peter is latently and naturally telepathic, which is apparently quite rare in the galaxy. Unfortunately, while attempting to study this further, Hoo-Lan falls into a coma, which the aliens, of course, suspect is Peter's doing. Oddly, they are made even more suspicious when, despite having given Peter free reign of the ship, he goes to a communications room and contacts Duncan to try to warn Earth of the aliens' plans.

The book ends with the aliens agreeing to give Peter and Broxholm one last chance to find some redeeming characteristic of humanity that would save it, apparently having decided that otherwise they will destroy the Earth. This, to me, exposes the aliens' assertion of their own civilized nature as mere hypocrisy (which seems not to have been Coville's intention). That they are willing to destroy an entire planet (including the environment they are mad at humanity for damaging) merely because of their own fear seems to show their own claims to be utterly peaceful to be hollow and false. This just reinforces the other elements that demonstrate that the aliens are uncivilized in their own way: Broxholm's willingness to harm humans to escape (although it turns out he does not have to), the aliens' original plan to kidnap five unwilling children, and so on.

This, plus the extraordinarily heavy-handed message of the book, prevents the book from being anything more than average. Even making allowances for the fact that the book is aimed at younger readers, Coville ladles the message on in heaping dollops, beating the reader about the head and shoulders with the inhumanity of humans, and asserting the comparative Nirvanah-like nature of the alien civilization. Consequently, despite generally interesting aliens, and a likable protagonist, the book is merely ordinary, which is a disappointment as with less of a heavy hand and more thought given to the alien civilization, the book could have been excellent.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
  StormRaven | Aug 20, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671727095, Paperback)

Peter Thompson follows his alien teacher onto his spaceship and heads for a journey beyond his wildest dreams.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:36 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When Peter Thompson discovers that his newest teacher glows in the dark he's flying away from Earth in a spaceship full of aliens and there's no one he can call.

» see all 2 descriptions

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