Looking for a rare science fiction book from when I was in Junior High.

We read this close to the same time we read the Chrysalids and Lord of the Flies. This book was about a girl and a boy that became friends, but they lived in a different world. The girl treated the boy as though he was weird, because he looked different and he lived at the bottom of the mountains in the grasslands. Close to the end of the book the girl comes down from the mountains or comes across a mirror and realizes she's the weird one after all - she is designed to survive up there. She has thick blue skin, large nostrils to take in the thin air, etc., etc.

I can't remember the author or the title, but I remember the female character describing how she came down to where the boy lived and the air was thick as soup for her to breathe.

  • 3
    When you were in Junior High, that's how many years back? Also do you remember any other information? What was on the cover if it was English book or translated, etc.
    – Zikato
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 5:34
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    The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes?
    – sueelleker
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 6:18
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    @sueelleker: Not the querent, but it does look like it could be a very good match. You should submit it as an answer, preferably linking to a source of information for the book and explaining why you think it matches.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 10:01
  • @sueelleker: Seconded. I don't have the book, but Googling finds lots of sources reporting that Olwen has enlarged nostrils and green (not blue) scaly skin. Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 10:10
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    Yeah, this is a pretty much exact match for Keeper of the Isis Light, put it in as an answer. It's been asked several times before so there are probably duplicates knocking around.
    – moopet
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


As Sue mentions in a comment, this is The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes.

The Keeper of the Isis Light

The girl is Olwen Pendennis, and she is looked after by the mysterious Guardian. As you say in the question Guardian has modified her to help her survive on the planet:

Olwen's hands crept up to her face. Guardian went on, "I deepened your ribcage and extended your vascular system, much in the way that the deep-sea mammals adapted theirs, so that you could store much more oxygen at each breath. I widened your nostrils too, to help you breathe more fully."

"Anything else?"

"I strengthened your ankles and thickened your fingernails to help you climb. And I changed your metabolism slightly . . . that shows in your altered skin colour."


"So that the poisonous plants and insects of Isis could not harm you."


What I did ..." He stopped, and then began again. "You have to understand something difficult. What I did has made you very different from other Earth-type people . . . different from all the settlers ... different from Mark."

The reference to soup is when Olwen says (talking to Mark):

"What do you mean? It is. Look at Guardian and me. We live up here. Of course we came here because of the Light, because the Light has to be as high and as far from interference as possible. But we're perfectly comfortable, and, you know, I don't even like going down in the valley very much. The air down there is so thick and muggy, it's like trying to breathe soup!"

The novel has already been asked about in the questions YA series with a housekeeper or protector robot and set on a planet with a harsh sun and YA Book (series?) - Trying to find a SF story about a young girl raised by a robot on an alien world?

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