The Alan Review
Current Editor
Wendy Glenn wendy.glenn@uconn.edu
Volume 22, Number 1
Fall 1994


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Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Woodson, Jacqueline
I Hadn't Meant To Tell You This
Reviewed by Joyce A. Litton
Librarian
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

Soto, Gary
Crazy Weekend
Reviewed by Judy Beckman
Professor of Education
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Wesley, Valerie Wilson
Where Do I Go From Here?
Reviewed by Sati Maharaj
Graduate Student
West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia

Wright, Richard
Rite of Passage
Reviewed by Nancy E. Zuwiyya
Teacher/Consultant
Binghamton High School and Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York

I Hadn't Meant To Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson Race Relations/Incest
Delacorte, 1994. 115 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-32031-0
Woodson's account of the friendship between Marie, a middle-class African-American girl, and Lena, a poor white girl, is set in an oddly fictionalized version of the real-life village of Chauncey in southeastern Ohio. It demonstrates that class and race are not always deterrents to understanding. The two twelve-year olds are united by the bond of motherlessness.

Swearing Marie to secrecy, Lena tells her that her father touches her inappropriately. The author is not graphic in her depiction of the incest. Lena's nervous laughter, vacant stares, and day dreaming are believable in a girl who has experienced such trauma. The novel ends with stark realism when Lena and her younger sister, Dion, run away because their father has begun to molest Dion. The book would be better if it would teach readers who may be victims of incest that they should speak out against the abuse they suffer.
The ALAN Review Joyce A. Litton
Fall 1994 Ohio University Library

Where Do I Go From Here? by Valerie Wilson Wesley Multicultural
Scholastic, 1993. 138 pp. $8.95 ISBN: 0-590-45606-7

Fifteen-year-old Nia Jones fears that in order to fit in at Endicott Academy, a finishing school for qualified (mostly white and wealthy) youths, she must sacrifice her African-American identity. However, Marcus Garvey Williams, her best friend and also African-American, convinces her otherwise. When Marcus disappears suddenly, Nia finds herself without an ally. Defending Marcus' name, Nia gets into an altercation and is expelled for two weeks. At home in Newark, Nia discovers that "color, money, anger" exist everywhere, not just at Endicott.

The first person perspective of this novel opens up Nia's reflections on these occurrences, and the final paragraphs of the novel bring us to Nia's return to Endicott. Except for a minor editorial inconsistency, the story moves quickly. Wesley draws believable characters in Marcus and Nia as they seek to carve out their niche in the world.
The ALAN Review Sati Maharaj
Fall 1994 West Virginia University

Crazy Weekend by Gary Soto Hispanic Americans, Humor
Scholastic, 1994. 144 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-47814-1
Hector and Mando travel to Fresno for a weekend visit with Uncle Julio, a photographer who takes aerial shots of neighboring ranches. Accompanying him on a "shoot" in a sneezing, chuffing, sputtering plane filled with rust holes and no parachutes becomes a memorable adventure. Returning home, "Unc" accidentally spots and photographs an armored truck heist. While selling his snaps to the newspaper, Hector and his friend are interviewed and eagerly identify themselves as they recount the details of the robbery. Then two ham-fisted thugs decide to teach these big mouths a lesson.

A glossary helps readers with Spanish phrases and words. Like Soto's Taking Sides, Crazy Weekend provides middle schoolers a satisfying, fast-paced read about the unpredictable complications of being an adolescent. This laugh-filled book is also a guaranteed winner for reluctant readers.
The ALAN Review Judy Beckman
Fall 1994 University of Northern Iowa

Rite of Passage by Richard Wright African American/Urban Violence
HarperCollins, 1994. 151 pp. $12.95 ISBN: 0-06-023419-9
Although Richard Wright wrote this novella fifty years ago, its themes of urban violence and family instability are just as relevant for today's teenagers. Wright sets his story in Manhattan around a neighborhood school used as the meeting place for a local gang. Fifteen-year-old Johnny suddenly discovers his parents are really foster parents and his real parents were unfit. He runs away and finds out that his best friend belongs to a gang of misfits. His flight, fears, initiation into the gang, and development into a leader compose the plot. Wright's prose is lean and powerful, his tone tough and impatient. Although the novella itself is easy reading, the impact of the violence and racism will require a mature reader. Following the novella is a scholarly essay by Arnold Rampersad assessing Rite of Passage within the context of Wright's other work. Recommended for high school and college reading, especially for multicultural discussions.
The ALAN Review Nancy E. Zuwiyya
Fall 1994 Binghamton High School and Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
Namioka, Lensey
April and the Dragon Lady
Reviewed by Tracy Jeane Babiasz
Graduate Student
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky

Bontemps, Arna, and Langston Hughes
Popo and Fifina
Reviewed by Gretchen Schwartz
Assistant Professor of Education
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Lasky, Kathryn
A Voice in the Dark
Reviewed by Lois Buckman
Librarian
Booker T. Washington Junior High School
Conroe, Texas

Paulsen, Gary
Sisters/Hermanas
Reviewed by Ted Hipple
Professor of Education
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee

April and the Dragon Lady by Lensey Namioka Chinese Americans/Self-Identity
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994. 214 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-276644-8
April Chen's grandmother insists on following Chinese traditions while April wants to carve a place for herself as an American. Her boyfriend Steve does not understand why she misses activities to look after her grandmother while her brother takes no responsibility. April gradually becomes dissatisfied with allowing her manipulative grandmother to run her life, but not until Grandma's meddling threatens her future plans does she stand up for her beliefs. Namioka's description of Chinese traditions in an American home will surprise readers and inspire cheers as April realizes she does not have to sacrifice her interests for the males of her family. Ironically, she discovers that she resembles her grandmother in continuing to fight for what she wants. Namioka addresses with honesty and compassion the issue of placing forgetful grandparents in nursing homes. Although the discovery that April's father is considering remarriage is a little rushed, the ending in which her grandmother demonstrates potential for change is satisfying.
The ALAN Review Tracy Jeane Babiasz
Fall 1994 University of Kentucky

Popo and Fifina by Arna Bontemps Haiti/Harlem Renaissance
and Langston Hughes ISBN: 0-19-508765-8
Oxford University Press, 1993. 110 pp. $14.95
Although the story itself is more suitable for children than young adults, anyone can enjoy this Opie Library edition of Popo and Fifina. Popo and Fifina are a brother and sister whose family moves from the countryside to the town of Cape Haiti, where their father becomes a fisherman. This simple tale of peasant life is told through Popo's eyes. The eight-year-old boy loves flying kites but also loves learning to be a woodworker and contributing to his family. The language is poetic and offers beautiful descriptions of Haiti. First published in 1932, the story is idealized and poverty is romanticized. Still, no reader can finish without thinking of Haitians as humans, not just newspaper headlines. The illustrations, apparently woodcuts, by E. Simms Campbell are delightful. The commentary on Bontemps and Hughes by Arnold Rampersad is valuable to literature students and anyone interested in African-American writers and the Harlem Renaissance.
The ALAN Review Gretchen Schwarz
Fall 1994 Oklahoma State University

A Voice in the Dark by Kathryn Lasky Native American/Adventure
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1993. 224 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-294102-9
In the third Starbuck Family Adventure, Liberty hears a voice in the wind just before falling asleep. In the morning as the family prepares to move to New Mexico, she forgets what happened. When they arrive, Liberty and her twin brother are exploring their new surroundings, when their hamster discovers two pieces of a clay pot. Searching for the rest, they find an ancient burial ground and the ghost of a young Native American who had been murdered six hundred years before. If the twins can find the rest of the clay pot, the Ghost will be at peace. What they don't realize is that grave robbers are also looking for the pot. Liberty and July rely on their telepathic powers to help keep one step ahead of danger.

The younger twins, Charly and Molly, with their coon skin caps and fake fingernails, add charm and humor to this well-researched adventure. In addition to a good plot, there is a great deal to be learned about this ancient culture and the art of making clay pottery. Middle school readers will enjoy the twins' telepathic powers.
The ALAN Review Lois Buckman
Fall 1994 Booker T. Washington Junior High, Conroe, Texas

Sisters/Hermanas by Gary Paulsen Class/Race Issues
Harcourt Brace, 1993. 65/130 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-275323-0

Paulsen has read his Kipling and knows that "the Colonel's lady and Rosie O'Grady are sisters under their skin." In this brief tale he writes of Rosa, fourteen years of age, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, who exists as a prostitute in an unnamed Texas town, and of Traci, also fourteen, whose life is a mother-driven preparation for becoming a cheerleader today, a leader of sophisticated Texas society tomorrow. The two stories are separate until the final few pages when a chance encounter brings the two girls together for a moment and Traci realizes the truth of the Kipling line. Though not up to Paulsen's Hatchet or the even better Monument (few YA novels are), this work still merits considerable attention and will be well received by teens who sense, even vaguely, class and racial differences. The descriptions of the lifestyles arouse emotion, sympathy for Rosa, annoyance about Traci. Of interest: read the book one way and it's in English. Turn it over and read from the other end and it's in Spanish. Hence the two numbers for page-length that are given above.
The ALAN Review Ted Hipple
Fall 1994 University of Tennessee

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
Bridgers, Sue Ellen
Keeping Christina
Reviewed by Elizabeth Poe
Associate Professor of English
Radford University
Radford, Virginia

McColley, Kevin
Pecking Order
Reviewed by Susanne L. Johnston
Lecturer in English
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Stout, Wisconsin

Chapin, Kim
The Road to Wembley
Reviewed by Chris Crowe
Associate Professor of English
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Bauer, Marion Dane
Am I Blue?
Reviewed by Michaeline Chance-Reay
Adjunct Faculty
Columbus State Community College
Columbus, Ohio

Keeping Christina by Sue Ellen Bridgers Friendship/Family/Freedom/Shakespeare
HarperCollins, 1993. 281 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-06-021504-6
Feeling sorry for the new girl in school, Annie befriends Christina. She is proud to share her comfortable home and family with Christina and wants her old friends to include her as well. Baffled when she begins to feel jealous and even suspicious of Christina, Annie chastises herself for her pettiness. Her mother and boyfriend are supportive, but Annie alienates herself from them and her best friend as well. Only when Annie discovers Christina is a pathological liar, do Christina's behavior and her reactions to it make sense. Fortunately, Annie still has the love of her family and friends when Christina, no longer able to preserve the false world she has woven around herself, moves away.
The feelings and relationships Bridgers portrays ring true. As insightful as ever, Sue Ellen Bridgers is clearly a master at understanding human motivations.
The ALAN Review Elizabeth Poe
Fall 1994 Radford University

Pecking Order by Kevin McColley Coming of Age/Farming/Family
HarperCollins, 1994. 215 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-06-023554-3
Tom Morrell comes from a long line of farmers, dating back to his great-great-great grampa Justin, who homesteaded the Morrell farm back before the Civil War. Though farming is in Tom's blood, and all over his clothes, he can't wait to leave. Yet, when he must go, he would gladly step back into the chicken coop if he could only change what has happened.
From farm loans and crop subsidies to everyday chores and annual cycles, from the sledding game "Kill the Turd" to a first date, Kevin McColley uses tenderness and humor to show good times and hard times in a failing industry and a struggling family. Through it all, Tom grows to understand that decisions aren't always easy or right. McColley captures the challenges, complexities, and joys of becoming a young adult in a touching and amusing story that will engage middle school readers.
The ALAN Review Susanne L. Johnston
Fall 1994 University of Wisconsin-Stout

The Road to Wembley by Kim Chapin Soccer/England/Living Abroad
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 197 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374348499
For Marty Regan, a fifth-grader at the American School in London, the new school year begins all wrong, and football (soccer) becomes his salvation. Marty and a British friend become unofficial assistants for the Belsize Park Bombers, a local professional football club. This endeavor provides needed diversion for Marty, who feels alienated both at school and at home. Marty's world becomes even more exciting when the beleaguered Bombers surprisingly win their way into the finals of the FA Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium. Chapin clearly knows soccer and England; his novel provides a window into a country and sport many American youth know little about. As sports novels go, this lacks the game action of a Matt Christopher book and the depth of a Crutcher or Lipstyte book. The plot drags at times, but the soccer scenes are well done -- something junior high school soccer players will certainly enjoy.
The ALAN Review Chris Crowe
Fall 1994 Brigham Young University

Am I Blue? edited by Marion Dane Bauer Identity/Gay Teens
HarperCollins, 1994. 273 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-06-024253-1
Marion Dane Bauer has put together sixteen vignettes about gay adolescent experiences. Some are humorous and all are well written, compassionate, and insightful. She writes from personal experience, blending fact and fiction to illustrate how the self-discovery process of adolescence brings about an awareness of sexual orientation. Other well known contributors are Lois Lowry, William Sleator, and M. E. Kerr. Each piece is followed by the author's notes on what inspired the story. My favorite is Nancy Garden's "Parents' Night" because it shows the varied reactions to self-disclosure or coming out. Each selection is concise and meaningful and therefore ideal for class discussion. The collection would be appropriate for parents, educators, and students in grades eight through college.
The ALAN Review Michaeline Chance-Reay
Fall 1994 Columbus State Community College

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
L'Engle, Madeleine
Troubling a Star
Reviewed by Margaret J. Ford
Library/Media Specialist
Campbell-Memorial High School
Campbell, Ohio

Haynes, Betsy
Deadly Deception
Reviewed by June Harris
Assistant Professor of English
East Texas State University
Commerce, Texas

Nixon, Joan Lowery
Shadowmaker
Reviewed by Earl Lomax
Associate Professor of English
David Lipscomb University
Nashville, Tennessee

Myers, Walter Dean
Mop, Moondance, and the Nagasaki Knights
Reviewed by C. Anne Webb
St. Louis, Missouri

Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle Antarctica/Mystery/Environmental Issues
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 296 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374-377783-9
Vicky Austin, the subject of several previous Madeleine L'Engle books, stumbles into an international mystery when she befriends Adam Eddington III's amazing Aunt Serena. Delving into the mysterious disappearance of Aunt Serena's son, Antarctic explorer Adam Eddington II, Vicky finds danger as she follows Adam III to Antarctica aboard the Argosy, an extravagant birthday gift from Aunt Serena. Was Adam II's disappearance an accident or murder? How does the South American political squabbling over Antarctica figure into the equation?
L'Engle's knowledge of penguins and other marine life of Antarctica creates a stunning and poetic background for the unique and diverse characters she creates. The reader meets Adam Cook, Aunt Serena's cook and a former monk, and Prince Otto, the youthful representative of a fictitious former Soviet Bloc country, Zlatovica, among others. In a stylistic twist that plays with time, L'Engle foreshadows Vicky's Antarctic perils through chapter opening vignettes which ultimately foreshadow the impending action in an exciting climax.
The ALAN Review Margaret J. Ford
Fall 1994 Campbell-Memorial High School, Campbell, Ohio

Deadly Deception by Betsy Haynes Mystery
Delacorte, 1994. 212 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-32067-1
Ashlyn Brennan has a life that, on the surface, looks to be ideal. She seems to have everything a high school senior could want, including a devoted boyfriend, Drew. Her life isn't perfect, though; Ashlyn's mother is cold, negligent and indifferent. Still, this year she has been able to compensate for her mother's indifference by developing a warm relationship with Mrs. Rothlis, the school counselor for whom she is a student aide. When her beloved Mrs. Rothlis is found murdered and Drew is the prime suspect, Ashlyn sets out to prove that he is not guilty. In the process, she uncovers some startling things about Mrs. Rothlis, her own family, and herself.
Haynes has crafted a fast-paced, well-plotted thriller that should appeal to fans of the genre from ages 12 to 15.
The ALAN Review June Harris
Fall 1994 East Texas State University

Shadowmaker by Joan Lowery Nixon Mystery
Delacorte, 1994. 197 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-32030-2
Katie Gillian's mother is an investigative reporter who always manages to dig up a lot of trouble along with the facts of her stories. Katie and her mother decide to leave Houston and live in a quiet Texas coastal town in order for Mrs. Gillian to write a novel. They are both surprised when they discover that urban corruption has found its way into small-town America. Katie encounters the typical problems of a teenager enrolling in a new school, but she also gets entangled in the disappearance and murder of a teenage girlfriend. Meanwhile, Katie's mother stirs up trouble by investigating the possibility of toxic waste dumping in town.
It's easy to see why Joan Lowery Nixon is the only three-time winner of the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and why she is called "the grande dame of mysteries for young readers." Dialogue and characterization sparkle. This is a fine book.
The ALAN Review Earl Lomax
Fall 1994 David Lipscomb University

Mop, Moondance, and the Nagasaki Knights Friendship/Baseball
by Walter Dean Myers ISBN 0-440-40914-4
Dell, 1992. 150 pp. $3.50
You met Mop (Miss Olivia Parish), R.J., and his brother Moondance in Me, Mop, and the Moondance Kid. In this story, the brothers, freshly adopted, find a family for their orphan-home friend, Mop. The adopter is the coach of the Little League team, the Elks, who win the championship in spite of being comprised of three girls, rejects, and a woman coach. Now Mr. Treaster, the coach of the Elks' arch-rival, the Eagles, hatches a new plan: the winning team will travel to Nagasaki, Japan, to play the champion there. In this adventure R.J. and Moondance learn that winning isn't everything as they become concerned with the homeless condition of their friend Greg and his mother. Vintage Myers with fast action, snappy dialogue, plenty of sports talk, and a "good doing" deed or two along the way.
The ALAN Review C. Anne Webb
Fall 1994 St. Louis, Missouri

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardback Fiction
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
Reaver, Chap
Bill
Reviewed by James E. Davis
Professor of English
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio
Rinaldi, Ann
A Stitch in Time
Reviewed by Joyce C. Lackie
Professor of English
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, Colorado

Holland, Isabelle
Behind the Lines
Reviewed by Teri S. Lesesne
Assistant Professor of Library Science
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas

de Travino, Elizabeth Borton
Leona: A Love Story
Reviewed by Hannah Pickworth
Librarian
Friends School of Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland

Bill by Chap Reaver Dogs
Delacorte, 1994. 216 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-31175-3
Dog story lovers will love Bill, thirteen-year-old Jessica's pet, best friend, and helper in coping with a bootlegging, alcoholic father, and a truly dastardly villain. Searching for buried treasure and a way to get her father out of jail provide the expected adventure, but the warm companionship of the wife of the law official who pursued her father and the law official himself is perhaps more interesting. This companionship also provides a way out for Jessica in this Kentucky backwoods setting where she has learned to be largely self-reliant during the long absences of her father. This "girl-and-her-dog" story is well plotted, has a strong, clearly drawn female protagonist, and in many ways an even stronger dog. Although embellished with humor, the work explores such serious themes as love and loyalty and the nature of right and wrong.
The ALAN Review James E. Davis
Fall 1994 Ohio University

The Quilt Trilogy: A Stitch in Time by Ann Rinaldi Historical fiction
Scholastic, 1994. 292 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46055-2
Ann Rinaldi's A Stitch in Time, set in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1788, blends richly detailed historical fiction with the timeless theme of the struggle to keep a family together in spite of jealousy, pride, and bigotry. Sixteen-year-old Hannah Chelmsford must learn to confront her domineering father in order to help her brothers and sisters find fulfillment. For herself, Hannah must unlock the secret her father has carried since the war against the British, thereby overcoming her inability to trust those who care for her.
Suspense begins immediately with a scheme to help Hannah's sister elope. The novel can be forgiven for being melodramatic at times because it works so well -- even the minor characters are intriguing. A lively plot provides plenty of surprises while the patchwork quilt Hannah is trying to finish serves as an eloquent symbol of a family in pieces. Middle school readers of this novel will eagerly await the second in Rinaldi's Quilt Trilogy.
The ALAN Review Joyce C. Lackie
Fall 1994 University of Northern Colorado
Behind the Lines by Isabelle Holland Historical Fiction
Scholastic, 1994. 194 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-45113-8
Katie O'Farrell works as a maid to the Lacey family of New York. Though only fourteen, she is fiercely independent in thought and in action. The year is 1863, and the United States is divided by civil war. Katie watches her fellow Irish immigrants go off to fight in a war she believes is not of their making. She knows slavery is wrong, to be sure, but so is the disparate effect of the draft on the poor. When Katie's brother is offered $300 to enlist in lieu of her wealthy employer's son, Katie is furious. She confronts the Laceys despite the threat of losing her job. Katie is a well-defined and realistic character whose feelings and beliefs are challenged in the face of the draft and the war.
Holland explores the 1863 New York City draft riots in this absorbing novel. Though these were perhaps the most violent riots in our history, they receive short shrift in contemporary texts. This piece of historical fiction should serve to fill this void.
The ALAN Review Teri S. Lesesne
Fall 1994 Sam Houston State University

Leona: A Love Story by Elizabeth Borton de Travino Historical Fiction
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 139 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-734-34382-9
Born to Spanish loyalists and living in privilege and wealth in Mexico, the beautiful orphan Leona is betrothed by her uncle to an older widower loyal to Spain. Leona soon realizes she does not love Don Conrado but rather loves Andres, a young fiery proponent of Mexican freedom against Spanish rule. For Andres, Leona willingly gives up her position, inheritance, and family to support the cause of a free Mexico. Although separated from Andres and suffering hardship and poor health, at the end Leona is reunited with him and named a Heroine of Independence.
In this highly romantic novel, the author acknowledges she has taken liberties to embellish her book, "based on a true story." Nevertheless, de Trevino paints a portrait of a young woman of determination, character, and courage sure to interest middle school female audiences. This is a good purchase for libraries looking for short, fast-paced, historical, multicultural material with a strong female protagonist. It's packaged with an alluring cover and includes a useful glossary of Spanish words.
The ALAN Review Hannah Pickworth
Fall 1994 Friends School of Baltimore
Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
Reiss, Kathryn
Pale Phoenix
Reviewed by Nicholas J. Karolides
Professor of English
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
River Falls, Wisconsin

Jordan, Sherryl
Winter of Fire
Reviewed by M. Jean Greenlaw
Regents Professor
University of North Texas
Denton, Texas

Zambreno, Mary Frances
Journeyman Wizard
Reviewed by Anne Shaughnessy
Teacher
Fort Clarke Middle School
Gainesville, Florida
Paulsen, Gary
The Car
Reviewed by Gerry McBroom
Assistant Dean, Arts and Sciences
Albuquerque Technical-Vocational Institute
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pale Phoenix by Kathryn Reiss Fantasy/Romance
Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994. 326 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-200030-5
Miranda's suburban routine is disturbed when her parents decide to provide a foster home for a strangely secretive, homeless girl, Abby, whom they catch breaking into their car. Feeling aggrieved and hostile, Miranda is suspicious of Abby's motives. These suspicions seem confirmed by Abby's apparent ability to disappear, though no one else notices, and Miranda -- but only Miranda -- can hear her crying. Eventually, the truth is revealed: Abby died in a fire in 1693. Magically saved by a phoenix statue, she has been unhappily time-traveling ever since, never aging. Miranda, her animosity dissolved, finds a solution to Abby's dilemma.
The plot of Pale Phoenix offers momentum and some intrigue. The time travel factor, however, is not fully sustained, the power of the phoenix is not clear, and the solution seems too simple. The characterizations are rather flat. Those factors along with internal clues -- the relationship of Miranda and Dan, her boyfriend -- suggest that younger readers, ages 11-14, will enjoy it.
The ALAN Review Nicholas J. Karolides
Fall 1994 University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan Science Fiction
Scholastic, 1993. 321 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-45288-6
Elsha is a Quelled teenager, a member of a slave race doomed to mine the earth for coal to sustain warmth on a world gripped in perpetual winter. The Chosen rule the world, embracing the belief that the Quelled are barely sentient. The Firelord is the most important person on the planet, the only one who can sense where seams of coal are located. When the Firelord selects Elsha as his Handmaid, there is turmoil throughout the land. As Elsha matures she gains knowledge and power; and, when the Firelord dies, she is determined to take his place and restore her people to their rightful humanity.
The saga of how Elsha becomes Firelord and exposes the myth that led to her people's slavery is one rich in texture, but a bit slow in pace. Jordan's tale is feminist in outlook but avoids stridency. The strength of the book lies in its piercing exploration of the causes and consequences of slavery. The audience goes beyond the confirmed science fiction fan.
The ALAN Review M. Jean Greenlaw
Fall 1994 University of North Texas

Journeyman Wizard by Mary Frances Zambreno Fantasy
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 263 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-15-200022-4
To master the art of spellmaking, Jermyn Graves travels to the cold, distant village of Land's End to study with Master Spellmaker Lady Jean. Arriving at the Tower, Lady Jean's home, Jermyn is confused by the icy welcome from the Spellmaker's family and troubled by his sense that someone nearby is working black magic. Before Jermyn completes his studies, Lady Jean is murdered and Jermyn is blamed. To prove his innocence Jermyn must try his magic against that of an accomplished black-magic artist.
The book's fantastic elements and suspense will appeal to young adolescents. Sixth graders, especially, will delight in the actions of Jermyn's familiar, a skunk through whom Jermyn draws power to enhance his own. Zambreno's use of foreshadowing will keep readers interested and guessing, and her theme -- the burden and responsibility of power --will prompt thoughtful discussion.
The ALAN Review Anne Shaughnessy
Fall 1994 Fort Clarke Middle School, Gainesville, Florida

The Car by Gary Paulsen Adventure/Vietnam War
Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994. 180 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-15-292878-2
Terry, fourteen-years old and deserted by both parents, builds a Blakely Bearcat from a kit left by his father. After late nights of lovingly putting each piece into place, the Cat is finished. Terry -- without a driver's license and driving experience -- sets out from Cleveland for Portland to look for an uncle he vaguely remembers. Terry meets Waylon, a Vietnam veteran, who convinces Terry to let this stranger ride with him in the Cat. Their first stop takes them to see another vet who joins them in their travels, riding his Harley. These men lead Terry on a journey of learning about history, people, and attitudes. Although unrealistic, with a loosely threaded plot, the novel reads quickly and will be a hit with those interested in cars and life's adventures.
The ALAN Review Gerry McBroom
Fall 1994 Albuquerque Technical-Vocational Institute

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover NonFiction and Poetry Collections
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
Ryland, Cynthia
Something Permanent
Reviewed by Richard F. Abrahamson
Professor of Literature
University of Houston
Houston, Texas

Filipovic, Zlata
Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo
Reviewed by Joan F. Kaywell
Associate Professor of English Education
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

McKissack, Patricia, C., and Frederick McKissack, Jr.
Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues
Reviewed by Alan M. McLeod
Professor of English Education
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia

Peck, Richard
Love and Death at the Mall: Teaching and Writing for the Literate Young
Reviewed by Donald R. Gallo
Professor of English
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, Connecticut

Something Permanent by Cynthia Ryland Poetry
with photographs by Walker Evans ISBN: 0-15-277090-9
Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994. 64 pp. $16.95
Walker Evans was one of America's finest photographers. During the 1930s he traveled across America for the Farm Security Administration recording images of the Great Depression. Cynthia Rylant has written a poem to go with each of the Evans photos included in this book. The result is a beautifully designed book that offers mature adolescents poetic and photographic impressions of the Great Depression.
"Stories" is about killing time and telling stories when no jobs are available. Rylant writes, "Hell, story's the only thing that's free in this world." "Utensils" tells of children coming from working the fields ". . . their bellies aching with hunger." "Traveler" is about the teenager who swore he'd get out of town by sixteen. When his is twenty and his dream of leaving is still just that, it hit him hard and he carried a heavy anchor with him that said, ". . . you ain't going nowhere son,/so get your ass/on home." Sad poems about resilient people struggling to survive are Rylant's poetic addition to Evans' fine photographs.
The ALAN Review Richard F. Abrahamson
Fall 1994 University of Houston

Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic War
Penguin Books, 1994. 200 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-670-85724-6
When Zlata Filipovic, "the Anne Frank of Sarajevo," began her diary entries on September 2, 1991, her life was typical of many eleven-year olds. She enjoyed watching MTV, vacationing with her family, going out for pizza, playing the piano, and going to school. Even after the bombing of Dubrovnic, war was something too far away to be real, believable, or concerned about. By the time she ended her diary entries on October 13, 1992, war was very real and life was anything but typical: a wrapped tomato was the "nicest `bouquet' she ever got"; rationed electricity was both a blessing and a curse; and the dead, wounded, and constant bombings were a part of her daily existence. Referring to the Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim warlords as "kids," Zlata frequently remarks how she --ironically -- has lost her childhood forever.
Although Zlata's writing skill is reflective of her age, readers may find it useful to chart names and refer to maps to assist with their reading.
The ALAN Review Joan F. Kaywell
Fall 1994 University of South Florida

Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues Sports
by Patricia C. McKissack and Frederick McKissack, Jr. ISBN: 0-590-45809-4
Scholastic, 1994. 184 pp. $13.95
Until 1947 it was not possible for Blacks to play major league baseball. This book presents some of the stars of the Negro leagues for whom the right to play in the majors came too late -- Oscar Charleston, "Cool Papa" Bell, Josh Gibson, and "Buck" Leonard, for instance. It also presents some of the athletes who eventually made it to the major leagues -- Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Roy Campanella, among others.
Through twelve chapters, with ample photographs and anecdotes, the authors provide a glimpse at segregated baseball -- its legends, status, tribulations, and drama. This history reminds us how fortunate we are to have seen the Frank Robinsons, Ernie Banks, and Hank Aarons we might not have seen had desegregation not occurred when it did, and what we missed by not being able to see "Satchel" Paige in his prime, or Ray Dandridge or Martin Dihigo.
The ALAN Review Alan M. McLeod
Fall 1994 Virginia Commonwealth University

Love and Death at the Mall: Teaching and Writing for Essay/Autobiography
the Literate Young by Richard Peck ISBN: 0-385-31173-7
Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1994. 161 pp. $16.95
Readers familiar with Richard Peck's Anonymously Yours and Don Gallo's Presenting Richard Peck won't find much new here. But this combination of personal history and social commentary -- about peer pressure, school authority, family values, and book censorship -- contains more of this award-winning author's wisdom and wit than either of those previous books. Readers familiar with only Peck's fiction will gain valuable insights into the backgrounds and contents of his numerous novels while receiving thought-provoking statements about literature -- e.g., "Novels need to raise questions no one else is raising in the lives of readers." Readers will also receive a full dose of "Peck-isms" -- such as "[T]he drug of choice in adolescence is conformity," and "Humor is anger that was sent to finishing school." This is Peck at his best: trenchant, insightful, nettlesome, playful, and challenging.
The ALAN Review Donald R. Gallo
Fall 1994 Central Connecticut State University
Clip and File Reviews of New Short Story Collections
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors
MacDonald, Caroline
Hostilities: Nine Bizarre Stories
Reviewed by Lisa J. McClure
Associate Professor of English
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, Illinois

Westall, Robert
Shades of Darkness: More of the Ghostly Best Stories
Reviewed by Judith W. Keck
Assistant Director, Staff Development
Licking County Office of Education
Newark, Ohio

Gorog, Judith
Please Do Not Touch
Reviewed by Darien Fisher-Duke
Librarian
Brookland Middle School
Richmond, Virginia
Conford, Ellen
I Love You, I Hate You
Reviewed by Diana Mitchell
English Teacher
Sexton High School
Lansing, Michigan

Hostilities: Nine Bizarre Stories by Caroline MacDonald Short Stories
Scholastic, 1994. 131 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46063-3
MacDonald, a New Zealand native, provides a collection of short stories that play along the border of reality and fiction. These stories are not horror stories in the traditional sense -- there are no monsters stalking the characters, no demons hiding in closets. What makes her stories bizarre is that she takes normal incidents and twists them just enough to make the reader question their plausibility. Can one person steal another person's identity? Can a seance predict the future?
Unfortunately, some stories do not have enough of a twist; nevertheless, younger readers should find the stories provocative. MacDonald exhibits a gift for developing characters who cross gender lines: her mixture of male and female protagonists creates an interesting study in contrasts of what is traditionally perceived as typically "male" and female" behaviors. Additionally, the stories, set in Australia, introduce readers to linguistic and cultural differences.
The ALAN Review Lisa J. McClure
Fall 1994 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Shades of Darkness: More of the Ghostly Best Stories Ghost Stories
by Robert Westall ISBN: 0-374-36758-2
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 312 pp. $17.00
This short story collection follows Westall's previous collection, Demons and Shadows: The Ghostly Best Stories. These eleven stories feature British settings and characters and have a Twilight-Zone atmosphere. Protagonists are mostly male and vary in age from ten to late twenties.
These are gentle stories for the most part, featuring ghosts seeking reparation for wrongs committed long ago. Westall sets the stage with a strong description of day-to-day reality then opens that reality just a crack to permit us to step into a ghostly situation. These are well-written and engaging stories but will seem quite tame to Stephen King enthusiasts.
The ALAN Review Judith W. Keck
Fall 1994 Licking County Office of Education

Please Do Not Touch by Judith Gorog Horror Stories
Scholastic, 1993. 144 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46682-8
At the Gallery Pitu, visitors get to choose what exhibit to view -- and enter. As their attention is caught by artifacts (a photograph, a ticket, a key), visitors enter into another time or place. They find themselves snooping, living the lives of others. And, visitors may discover that they are leaving some thing, some experience of their own, behind in the Gallery. Each story describes some artifact that captivates, enticing one into its own world. While original, the book isn't particularly convincing or compelling. A mildly interesting, mildly scary collection of stories.
The ALAN Review Darien Fisher-Duke
Fall 1994 Brookland Middle School, Richmond, Virginia

I Love You, I Hate You by Ellen Conford Short Stories/Growing Up
Scholastic, 1994. 133 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-45558-3
This collection of seven short stories focuses on some of the sticky situations and tough questions that adolescents face. Can a teen relationship survive a romantic evening cruise with one bratty little brother in tow? Can best friends become more than best friends and, if so, who admits their feelings first? Does falling for a good-looking person, even one who has none of the same interests, mean the relationship is doomed? How does one begin to get along with a future stepsister? Are there ways to cope with a teacher who seems to hate you?
These fast-paced, mostly humorous stories will delight middle schoolers who are in the throes of the agony of growing up. Although some characters do seem a little too perfect to be believable, they do help create the acceptance that the characters seek. Through this collection, middle schoolers can see that teens actually survive embarrassing, humiliating, and uncomfortable experiences and that in retrospect there is often something funny involved in these painful times.
The ALAN Review Diana Mitchell
Fall 1994 Sexton High School, Lansing, Michigan


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