The Alan Review
Editors:
Wendy Glenn, Senior Editor
Ricki Ginsberg, Assistant Editor
Danielle King, Assistant Editor
alan-review@uconn.edu
Volume 21, Number 2
Winter 1994


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Clip and File Reviews of Poetry and Short Story Collections

Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Strickland, Michael R., editor
Poems That Sing to You
Reviewed by
Darien Fisher-Duke
Librarian
Brookland Middle School
Richmond, Virginia

Soto, Gary
Local News
Reviewed by
Nik Lightfoot
Language Arts Instructor
Hopkins School District
Hopkins, Minnesota

Westall, Robert
Demons and Shadows
Reviewed by
Nicholas J. Karolides
Professor of English
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
River Falls, Wisconsin

Sleator, William
Oddballs
Reviewed by
Donald R. Gallo
Professor of English
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, Connecticut

Poems That Sing to You selected by Michael R. Strickland Poetry
Boyds Mills Press, 1933. 64 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 1-56397-178-X
To poets, sound is as important as meaning. This slim book shows the close relationship between music and poetry. Here we find poems reflecting elements of song, dance, jazz, and the blues. Poets range from Blake and Whitman to Adoff and Silverstein. These poems reflect many cultures and could be used across the curriculum in music, social studies, and language arts classes.
The ALAN Review Darien Fisher-Duke
Winter 1994 Brookland Middle School, Richmond, Virginia

Local News by Gary Soto General Interest
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993. 144 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-15-248117-6
Through his selection of short stories, Gary Soto provides readers with a rich array of adolescent encounters -- sibling rivalry, gender bias, dating, and family conflicts -- which, when put into an Hispanic American context, celebrate the diversity of the community. The beauty of the work is that cultural influence is not overlooked. The characters' actions reflect how Hispanic American culture shapes common experiences. The text can be used with students of all ability levels, and frequent inclusion of Hispanic American expressions will excite Spanish-speaking readers and challenge English-speaking readers to expand their vocabulary. Middle-school readers will be attracted to Soto's stories for their humorous yet genuine wit, charm, and vivid description of adolescents' experiences within the community.
The ALAN Review Nik Lightfoot
Winter 1994 Hopkins School District, Hopkins, Minnesota

Demons and Shadows by Robert Westall Ghost/Horror
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993. 264 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-37-431768-2
These eleven sophisticated "ghostly stories" do not represent horror for horror's sake. Rather, they focus on the characters visited by the demons and shadows -- among them a wish-fulfilling wizard; an invisible creature that eats away at the minds of its victims; troubled spirits of the newly buried; an avenging angel; magical spectacles suggestedly belonging to Catherine de Medici, the royal poisoner -- to elicit their reactions. In the last story, for example, Maude, mild-mannered and self-effacing, tingles with guilty excitement when she dons the spectacles; she achieves not only a clarity of sight, revealing the foibles of those around her, but also a powerful personality -- alluring, daringly assertive, even a bit malicious. The spectacles lead her to the brink of disaster. Fresh, engaging, and quite varied, only one story, that of the wizard, projects a somewhat familiar expectation; but it offers, nevertheless, its own surprise.
The ALAN Review Nicholas J. Karolides
Winter 1994 University of Wisconsin, River Falls

Oddballs by William Sleator Autobiographical Stories
Dutton, 1993. 134 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-525-45057-2
Although the LC categories on the copyright page list this book as fiction, William Sleator's own comments indicate that most of the incidents recounted in these ten stories are true, with a little embellishing, of course. Fans of Sleator's novels won't learn anything about his penchant for science fiction here. But they will see lots of evidence of his creativity and that of his siblings, parents, and friends as he describes their loony adventures from childhood through adolescence, including Tycho's toilet training, Vicky's purple hair, Jack's self-taught hypnotizing skills, Halloween seances, zany skits, and what they called Pitiful Encounters acted out on streetcars. Even though Sleator's family was/is somewhat bizarre, his accounts will likely help readers recall some of their own similar childhood adventures while enjoying Sleator's humorous and wacky tales.
The ALAN Review Donald R. Gallo
Winter 1994 Central Connecticut State University

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction and Nonfiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Hunter, Latoya
The Diary of Latoya Hunter: My First Year in Junior High
Reviewed by
Richard F. Abrahamson
Professor of Education
University of Houston
Houston, Texas

Littlefield, Bill
Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes
Reviewed by
Alan M. McLeod
Professor of English Education
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia

Freedman, Russell
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery
Reviewed by
Kay Parks Bushman
English Teacher
Ottawa High School
Ottawa, Kansas

San Souci, Robert D.
Cut from the Same Cloth
Reviewed by
Christy Hammer
English Teacher
Mickle Junior High School
Lincoln, Nebraska

The Diary of Latoya Hunter: My First Year Diary
in Junior High School by Latoya Hunter
Crown, 1992. 131 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-517-58511-1
Her sixth-grade teacher praised Latoya Hunter's writing ability. An editor read the teacher's comments, and Latoya Hunter had a book contract.
Latoya's diary chronicles her seventh-grade year at JHS 80 in the Bronx. She recounts the pleasures and strengths that come from being a part of an extended family, the joys of becoming an aunt, and the ups and downs of first love. Along with the emotional peaks and valleys that come with adolescence, Latoya details the grim realities of urban life in the 90s. In describing her Bronx world of dirty streets and graffiti, she writes, "The only colors I see are brown and grey -- dull colors." She is propositioned by a middle-aged man holding up money as a lure. Her sleep is broken by the sounds of gun shots and the horror of finding that her neighbor has just been killed.
Teen readers will recognize themselves in Latoya's words. They'll also recognize a world not just found in the Bronx.
The ALAN Review Richard F. Abrahamson
Winter 1994 University of Houston

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman Biography
Clarion Books, 1993. 198 pp. $17.95 ISBN: 0-89919-862-7
Freedman has created a high-interest, easily readable, inspirational work on this former first lady, focusing on her tragic and lonely childhood; her secret courtship by Franklin; their changing relationship over the years; her domination by her mother-in-law; and her maturation into a confident, self-reliant, committed, and serving American woman. The text is filled with excerpts from Eleanor's journals as well as numerous photographs throughout her years, which should provide not only a personal connection between Eleanor and the young adult readers but also a motivation through her accomplishments for today's young people to gain strength to overcome some obstacles of their own.
The ALAN Review Kay Parks Bushman
Winter 1994 Ottawa High School, Ottawa, Kansas

Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes Sports
by Bill Littlefield, Paintings by Bernie Fuchs
Little, Brown and Company, 1993. 131 pp. $21.95 ISBN: 0-316-52805-6
Littlefield has selected five male and five female athletes who truly exemplify qualities of "perseverance and grace under pressure." They help us understand determination, goal setting, and making (as he notes in an introduction as insightful as the stories) meaningful lives beyond the playing field. A foreword by Frank Deford reminds us that "the greatest champions continue to triumph in tandem with failure."
The female athletes are Julie Krone (a jockey), Joan Benoit Samuelson (a marathoner), Susan Butcher (a dogsled racer), Billy Jean King (a tennis player), and Diana Golden (a one-legged skier). The male athletes are Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente (baseball players), "Pele" (a soccer player), "Tiny" Archibald (a basketball player), and Muhammad Ali (a boxer).
The book is highly readable, capturing the essence of these individuals not only as impressive athletes but also as remarkable persons. It should appeal to readers from middle school on, and it should lead the reader to biographies and other books about these individuals.
The ALAN Review Alan M. McLeod
Winter 1994 Virginia Commonwealth University

Cut from the Same Cloth by Robert D. San Souci Myths/Legends/
Philomel, 1993. 140 pp. $16.95 Tall Tales
ISBN: 0-399-21987-0
These fifteen tales of strong, independent, American women are a welcome addition to American folklore. These "bigger-than-life" women undertake every task that confronts them, conquering everything from rivers to cannibalistic ogres to enemy tribes.
This collection presents women as unique in their own right, comfortable in roles that were often reserved for men. They are leaders, taking risks, conquering obstacles, making a difference for others. The stories are beautifully written, focusing on Native American, Anglo American, African American, and Spanish American traditions.
The stories would work well as part of a multicultural unit: each story, as well, can stand on its own. The book is more likely to function as an excellent resource or supplement to the curriculum than as a book that young adults will pick up and read all the way through on their own.
Brian Pinkney's beautiful illustrations resembling ink prints from woodcuts complement the tales.
The ALAN Review Christy Hammer
Winter 1994 Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, Nebraska

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Brooks, Caryl
The Empty Summer
Reviewed by
Chris Crowe
Associate Professor of English
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Kaye, Marilyn
Real Heroes
Reviewed by
Jim Brewbaker
Professor of English Education
Columbus College
Columbus, Georgia

Greene, Patricia Baird
The Sabbath Garden
Reviewed by
Teri S. Lesesne
Assistant Professor of Library Science
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas

Klass, Sheila Solomon
Rhino
Reviewed by
Jackie Cronin
Librarian
South High School
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Empty Summer by Caryl Brooks Mental Illness/Suicide/First Love
Scholastic, 1993. 182 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-45863-9
Brooks' novel places fifteen-year-old Maggie Gray smack in the middle of complex conflicts, conflicts familiar to many adolescents. She admires and envies her new best friend, Kimberly Porter, a beautiful model who appears to be everything Maggie is not. She must deal with increasing pressure from her new -- and first -- boyfriend to go farther than she wants to. And she is bound by promise and loyalty to keep secret the details of Kimberly's unhappy family life, her growing abuse of prescription drugs, and her suicidal tendencies. The demands of her two new friends nearly overwhelm Maggie. Brooks portrays these conflicts realistically, and the confusion Maggie experiences is something many YAs will understand. Though it resembles a romance novel, this is much more than a romance, dealing sensitively with real issues, and thus may serve as a bridge to move romance junkies from their standard fare to more substantial yet equally satisfying reading.
The ALAN Review Chris Crowe
Winter 1994 Brigham Young University

The Sabbath Garden by Patricia Baird Greene Self-concept
Lodestar, 1993. 214 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-67430-6
The only time Opie feels at home is on the basketball court where her height and her slight build are an advantage. Otherwise, she feels gawky and out of place. Opie has always been taught to suppress her feelings, but there is a caged animal inside of her clawing toward escape. An encounter with old Mr. Leshko, a neighbor in her apartment building, helps Opie find some inner quiet. Together they build a Sabbath garden. Literally, it is a place where the community can gather, a spot of peace in an otherwise riotous city. The Sabbath garden is also a deep well of inner contentment from which Opie can draw when her life seems out of control.
Greene has created a realistic picture of how people can sometimes lose their humanity when the city presses in on them. Though gritty, the story is ultimately about the redemptive quality of trust. Interesting companion books might be Lasky's Prank and Brooks' The Moves Make the Man.
The ALAN Review Teri S. Lesesne
Winter 1994 Sam Houston State University

Real Heroes by Marilyn Kaye Social Issues
HBJ Brace Gulliver, 1993. 144 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-15-200563-3
In Real Heroes, Marilyn Kaye takes a hard look at what can happen when a popular teacher tests HIV+. Kevin Delaney and his father, a small-town law enforcement officer, have barely survived the departure of Kevin's mother. Life is complicated already, but, when Jeffrey Logan, Kevin's PE teacher, admits that he carries the AIDS virus, the Delaneys' delicate balance is jeopardized. Kevin's father leads a move to have Logan fired; Kevin quietly sympathizes with those who defend him.
Real Heroes, aimed at middle schoolers, provides straightforward information about AIDS, about how it is transmitted, and about the fears that too many people, adults and adolescents alike, give in to. Kaye's plotting is believable; her characters, though, are sketchy. Though not a memorable book, Real Heroes will find a deserved readership among curious and concerned upper-elementary and younger teenagers.
The ALAN Review Jim Brewbaker
Winter 1994 Columbus College

Rhino by Sheila Solomon Klass Self-concept
Scholastic Inc., 1993. 161 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590442503
Annie Trevor is a teenager whose life is in good order in terms of school, job, family, and her boyfriend. Her nose is her problem. It's the same nose worn by her father and her grandfather, but on her face it's out-sized. Despite the protestations of her family and her friend, Bob, who all think she is pretty as she is, her own perception leaves her unconvinced. Self-concept rather than mere vanity is the issue here as Annie presents her case to her family and Bob. The family finances cannot be stretched for rhinoplasty, and even though Annie works overtime at her job saving for the surgery, she is many dollars away from her goal. Providentially, a family crisis finally evolves into a solution for her, but the point is well-made in this intelligent novel that a poor self-image is damaging to a person, and if a solution is within reason, it should be pursued.
The ALAN Review Jackie Cronin
Winter 1994 South High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Hamilton, Virginia
Plain City
Reviewed by
Lisa J. McClure
Assistant Professor of English
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, Illinois

Crutcher, Chris
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Reviewed by
Elizabeth Poe
Associate Professor of English
Radford University
Radford, Virginia

Asher, Sandy
Out of Here
Reviewed by
Diana Mitchell
English Teacher
Sexton High School
Lansing, Michigan

McKenna, Colleen O'Shaughnessy
The Brightest Light
Reviewed by
Edna Earl Edwards
Professor of Education and English
West Georgia College
Carrollton, Georgia

Plain City by Virginia Hamilton Coming of Age/Prejudice
Scholastic, 1993. 194 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-47364-6
Hamilton is an expert in character study. This time, she examines twelve-year-old Buhlaire-Marie Sims in her search for identity, a process complicated by the fact that her mother is hardly ever at home and her father, she is told, was killed in Vietnam. Left to be raised by relatives who refuse to talk about her past, and disquieted by an obvious lack of acceptance by town residents because of "who she was and what she looked like," Buhlaire battles everyone around her for recognition and acceptance. As she unravels family secrets, she must struggle with accepting herself and her family.
Hamilton's storytelling has never been better. Her blending of first-person narrative with Buhlaire's stream-of-consciousness commentary invites the reader to relive Buhlaire's struggles and understand them from the inside out. The only flaw is that, at the end, Hamilton's voice overtakes Buhlaire's and indulges in too much analysis.
The ALAN Review Lisa J. McClure
Winter 1994 Southern Illinois University

Out of Here by Sandy Asher Relationships/Senior Year
Lodestar, 1993. 148 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-525-67418-7
Senior year -- that long-awaited time. Now that it's here, Stacey yearns for the year to be over; Brenda feels the meaninglessness of it all; Jamie wonders what is in store for him when the year ends. The confusions and joys of senior year are captured in this story that shows nine seniors who touch each others' lives. Friends fall in love, divorce refocuses lives, the pain of alcoholism and abuse surfaces, and characters realize that they ultimately must shape their own future. High-schoolers who are interested in looking at relationships and in thinking about their senior year will like this book.
The ALAN Review Diana Mitchell
Winter 1994 Sexton High School, Lansing, Michigan

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher Friendship/Sports/
Greenwillow, 1993. 216 pp. $14.00 Abuse/Religion ISBN: 0-688-11552-7
Once again, Chris Crutcher plunges his readers into life's tough issues within a compelling story filled with human compassion. Eric Calhoun and Sarah Byrnes, social outcasts due to Eric's junk-food-fed obesity and Sarah's burn-scarred face, form a childhood friendship dedicated to heaping revenge on those who persecute them. When Eric joins the high-school swim team and begins to lose his ugly pounds, he overeats to keep himself fat so Sarah will not be alone in her misery. But he stops binging when Sarah threatens to beat him senseless. Later, Sarah loses her grit, withdraws from the world, and is hospitalized. Eric verifies his friendship by helping her deal with the physical and psychological pain she has suffered since early childhood.
Crutcher handles difficult topics such as abuse, abortion, and religious rigidity with his characteristic intelligence, humor, and empathy.
The ALAN Review Elizabeth Poe
Winter 1994 Radford University

The Brightest Light by Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna Growing Up
Scholastic, 1992. 176 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-45347-0
Sixteen-year-old Kitty Lee Carter, whose mother died when she was two, lives with Gramma Belle and her father, who withdrew from life after her mother's death. In the summer before her senior high school year, Kitty works at Jake's Dairy Queen to save money for a car. Accustomed to watching life from a window, she is swept into a vortex of involvement after the Curtis family moves to town. Drawn to the handsome Mr. Curtis, she babysits his children and deals with his alcoholic wife. Kitty struggles to understand the circumstances of her own mother's death and the changed relationship with Cody, her longtime friend.
As Kitty sorts out these puzzles and emotions, she comes of age. The author captures a naive girl's being attracted to a married man, drawing erroneous conclusions about her mother, exchanging friendship for love, clarifying her values, and developing self-esteem. The book will hold the interest of readers undergoing changes from adolescence to adulthood.
The ALAN Review Edna Earl Edwards
Winter 1994 West Georgia College

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Cooney, Caroline B.
Whatever Happened to Janie?
Reviewed by
James E. Davis
Professor of English
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

Hansen, Joyce
The Captive
Reviewed by
Bonnie O. Ericson
Associate Professor of English
California State University
Northridge, California

McDaniel, Lurlene
Baby Alicia Is Dying
Reviewed by
Marjorie M. Kaiser
Professor of Secondary Education
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky

Wyss, Thelma Hatch
A Stranger Here
Reviewed by
Wendy H. Bell
English Teacher
Enka High School
Enka, North Carolina

Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney Kidnapping
Delacorte, 1993. 176 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-385-31035-8
The outcome of The Face on the Milk Carton is disclosed in this book about fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson, kidnapped at three, returning to live with her birth parents as Jennie Spring. The effects of this move on Jennie/Janie, both sets of parents, and the sisters and three brothers in the Spring household are painfully revealed. The unravelling of the mystery of the kidnapping is sometimes gripping, if far-fetched, and the reader may grow impatient with the unrealistic expectations everybody has of everybody else. Finally a satisfactory decision and resulting action occur, which should have appropriately ended the book. But no, an incredible trip to the bowels of New York City by the older brother and sister to find Hannah, the kidnapper, weakens the work considerably. It will still be of interest, though, to readers who like to read about identity, kidnapping, and family relations.
The ALAN Review James E. Davis
Winter 1994 Ohio University

Baby Alicia Is Dying by Lurlene McDaniel AIDS Babies/
Bantam, 1993. 185 pp. $3.50 Family Relationships ISBN: 0-553-29605-1
Laced with sweet friendship and the hint of romance, this coming-of-age story set in Atlanta over one school year is presented against the background of the 90s tragedy of infants born HIV positive. Ninth grader Desi discovers the joy of selfless loving through volunteering in a half-way house child-care center for well but destined-to-die babies. Her attachment to infant Alicia not only teaches her about service and commitment but also brings her closer to mature understandings about the relationships she has with her older sister and her parents. McDaniel's lean narrative, credible characters, and genuine dialogue combine to create a powerhouse of emotion that, given such a situation, could but never does slip into easy sentimentality. Instead, Baby Alicia Is Dying promises a near-lyrical experience that will touch middle-school and high-school readers and will surely keep them turning the pages.
The ALAN Review Marjorie M. Kaiser
Winter 1994 University of Louisville

The Captive by Joyce Hansen Slavery
Scholastic, 1993. 195 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-41625-1
Betrayed by his father's servant, 12-seasons-old Kofi is captured by slave traders in 1788. He survives the harrowing journey across the Atlantic only to be sold to a Puritan couple in cold New England. Eventually he runs away with two friends, one a white indentured servant, and is saved by a free African American merchant and sea captain. In an epilogue we learn Kofi never returned to his Ashanti tribe but spent his life helping fugitive slaves and working as a ship's pilot.
The Captive is interesting because it brings slavery out of the South and to New England during Puritan times; furthermore, the African American sea captain is an unusual and real historical figure. Readers will experience two very different cultures as they relate to the traumatic changes in Kofi's life. Along with O'Dell's My Name Is Not Angelica, this book is a good choice for individual or group reading by middle school students.
The ALAN Review Bonnie O. Ericson
Winter 1994 California State University, Northridge

A Stranger Here by Thelma Hatch Wyss Supernatural Romance
HarperCollins, 1993. 132 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 0-06-021438-4
Readers who enjoyed the movie Ghosts will be bewitched by the lightweight but appealingly-charactered plot of Wyss' second novel. Sent to help out her hypochondriac Aunt May for the summer, sixteen-year-old Jada Sinclair discovers unexpected romance when she falls in love with the spirit of Starr Freeman, the handsome World War II hero who never returned to marry Jada's cousin, Rosanne. Jada, whose curly hair, height, and love of poetry set her apart (in her eyes) from her more conventional family, is confused about her true identity and her plans after graduation. Aria-singing Uncle Mac; persistent flesh-and-blood suitor, Daniel Bates; and Starr, himself, indirectly help Jada realize who she is and what she wants from her future. This novel is a fine, easy-to-read independent choice for units on self-discovery, family alienation, or just plain romance.
The ALAN Review Wendy H. Bell
Winter 1994 Enka High School, Enka, North Carolina

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Magorian, Michelle
Not a Swan
Reviewed by
Judith W. Keck
Assistant Director, Staff Development
Licking County Office of Education
Newark, Ohio

de Jenkins, Lyll Becerra
Celebrating the Hero
Reviewed by
Michaeline Chance-Reay
Adjunct Instructor of English
Columbus State Community College
Columbus, Ohio

Cavanagh, Helen
Panther Glade
Reviewed by
Susanne L. Johnston
Lecturer in English
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Stout, Wisconsin

Grover, Wayne
Ali and the Golden Eagle
Reviewed by
John Jacob
Associate Professor of English
North Central College
Naperville, Illinois

Not a Swan by Michelle Magorian Historical Fiction/Romance
HarperCollins, 1992. 409 pp. $18.00 ISBN: 0-06-024214-0
Circumstances place three unchaperoned sisters, ages 17-21, in a cottage on the coast of England during World War II. The story focuses on the youngest sister Rose who practices being a writer, experiments with sex, and falls in love. Rose explores the local history and mystery of a young woman who lived in the cottage during World War I.
As I began to read Not a Swan, my initial response was too 40s, too British, too long, but in a few pages I was swept along by the story. Several characters are a bit fuzzy, but this is a pretty good novel for girls willing to plunge into a lengthy book with a historical setting. Readers will discover that issues of sex and love remain fairly similar during World War I, World War II, and today.
The ALAN Review Judith W. Keck
Winter 1994 Licking County Office of Education, Newark, Ohio

Panther Glade by Helen Cavanagh Self-Discovery/
Simon and Schuster, 1993. 144 pp. $15.00 Native American Legends ISBN: 0-671-75617-6
Bill Carven is stuck in Florida for the summer while his parents are on a business trip in Europe. He has to help his Great Aunt Cait, an archaeologist, dig for Calusa artifacts at an ancient burial mound. He would rather watch TV than spend every day outside among snakes and scorpions, but his initial reluctance gives way to enthusiasm as he learns about the legend of the cat-god and other Calusa myths. When Bill is forced to confront his fears alone in the Everglades, as young Calusa did in the past, he finds inner strength and peace.
Cavanagh's engrossing story, with rich descriptions of Florida and its natural history, is appropriate for younger readers who enjoy adventure. However, the book deals extensively with spiritual beliefs and legends of the Calusa. While myths are presented in a nondidactic manner, they could be offensive to some readers.
The ALAN Review Susanne L. Johnston
Winter 1994 University of Wisconsin-Stout

Celebrating the Hero by Lyll Becerra de Jenkins Relationships/
Dutton, 1993. 179 pp. $15.99 Latin America ISBN: 0-525-67399-7
Seventeen-year-old Camila Draper journeys to the small pueblo in Columbia, where her recently deceased mother was born, to celebrate a hero. The hero is her late grandfather who, while doing much public good, neglected private needs. This is a novel of contrasts between cultures, eras, generations, stages of life, families and individuals. Camila begins to mature as she discovers the gray areas of life that lie in between right and wrong.
The story is brief and the dialogue stilted, but the characters are three-dimensional and give us a glimpse of Columbian society. The female characters are especially interesting in their struggle against tradition. The novel would appeal to junior-high students and be suitable for a multicultural unit. Lyll Becerra de Jenkins has also written The Honorable Prison, which won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a number of short stories for readers interested in learning more about Latin America.
The ALAN Review Michaeline Chance-Reay
Winter 1994 Columbus State Community College

Ali and the Golden Eagle by Wayne Grover Coming of Age/Falconry
Greenwillow, 1993. 150 pp. $13.00 ISBN: 0-688-11385-0
Grover has written a thinly fictionalized account of his interactions with a number of members of a remote Saudi Arabian tribe while working for the United States government in Saudi Arabia. The scope of the book is broad but focuses primarily on the title character raising a golden eagle to catch game and respond to his master's wishes. It is the only eagle known to experts on falconry to be tamed and taught to hunt, particularly with the mysterious process by which Ali controls his bird with his mind. The author makes it clear that this young boy can do this, but we never discover the secret. The subtext to the book has to do with changes in the Arabs because of Western contact, Ali's coming-of-age ceremony and feuding with his older brother, and the remarkable abilities of the American character, "Mr. Wayne," who not only knows members of the Saudi royal family on a first-name basis but also is an expert mountain climber and hang-glider, skills which he teaches Ali. In fact, he catches Ali's golden eagle, Samson, for him. This book should appeal to young readers interested in foreign lands and their customs.
The ALAN Review John Jacob
Winter 1994 North Central College

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Haseley, Dennis
Dr. Gravity
Reviewed by
Hugh Agee
Professor of English Education
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia

Smith, Sherwood
Wren's Quest
Reviewed by
Hollis Lowery-Moore
Associate Professor of Education
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas

Shusterman, Neal
The Eyes of King Midas
Reviewed by
Charles R. Duke
Dean, College of Education and Human Services
Clarion University
Clarion, Pennsylvania

Charnas, Suzy McKee
The Kingdom of Kevin Malone
Reviewed by
Hazel K. Davis
Athens, Ohio

Dr. Gravity by Dennis Haseley Fantasy/Romance
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1992. 322 pp. $17.00 ISBN: 0-374-31842-5
In this unusual bit of low fantasy, a young man known only as Dr. Gravity returns to his hometown of Avebury, Ohio, after years of scientific research in the mountains of Switzerland. His boon to Avebury's residents is a trunk filled with vials of formulas that will free its citizens of the "dangerous" force of gravity. Whetting their curiosity, he gives his gifts freely, and in short order the entire populace, the primary buildings of the community, and even an assortment of animals rise far above the earth. Euphoria sets in, but Gabriella, the mayor's daughter, realizes that this utopia cannot last. In her loving wisdom, she is instrumental in bringing the town down to earth again and helps Dr. Gravity see that happiness is on earth with her rather than in the stars.
This is a touching story in many ways, and Haseley offers subtle humor throughout his narrative. This story raises some of the what if? questions of a Tuck Everlasting, but it falls short in its impact. Still, young readers will enjoy the resourceful Gabriella and have compassion for the determined Dr. Gravity.
The ALAN Review Hugh Agee
Winter 1994 The University of Georgia

The Eyes of Kid Midas by Neal Shusterman Fantasy
Little, Brown and Company, 1992. 185 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-316-77542-8
What if you were the wimp of the school and one day you found a pair of magical glasses that transformed your thoughts into immediate action? Kevin Midas finds such a pair of glasses on a mountain-climbing trip and plunges into a world filled with awesome power and frightening consequences; for a brief time, he reigns supreme among his peers only to discover that with power comes responsibility and decisions. Ultimately he decides his former world is preferable to the one the magic glasses bring him. Shusterman spins a fast tale with fable-like characteristics and well-drawn characters that should hold readers' interest; he also is able to raise some useful questions about power and the individual's responsibility to others. Suitable for junior-high as well as high-school readers.
The ALAN Review Charles R. Duke
Winter 1994 Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Wren's Quest by Sherwood Smith Fantasy/Adventure
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993. 199 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-15-20097
The kingdom of Cantimoor is besieged by the trickery of an angry sorcerer. Wren, Princess Teressa's best friend, is required to do much more than the usual illusions focus and control tasks on her basic Magic School test, and young Prince Conner is accused of striking his cousin Garian, Teressa's brother. The King, Queen, and Connor's sister decide it is best that Connor accompany Wren on her quest to find the family that deserted her in an orphanage. The sorcerer sends troops to pursue Connor and Wren and continues to create havoc at Cantimoor. The young adults in Wren's Quest face the growing pains of young adults in all times and all places as well as the dangers, trials, and mysteries of Smith's fantastic world and mystical times. This sequel to Wren's Rescue is a page-turner that allows readers to enjoy more adventures with likable characters and unique places and situations.
The ALAN Review Hollis Lowery-Moore
Winter 1994 Sam Houston State University

The Kingdom of Kevin Malone by Suzy McKee Charnas Fantasy
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993. 211 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-15-200756-3
Charnas combines adventures in a fantasy world with real-life problems of child abuse, friendship, and coping with the death of a loved one. Fourteen-year-old Amy, a reader of fantasy, follows Kevin Malone, her childhood tormentor, into Fayre Farre, the imaginary world he created for himself as a child to escape his father's beatings. Charnas' irreverent treatment of other fantasy adventures makes for delightful reading. There are monsters, prophesies, magic, action, and bloodshed galore. The ending is somewhat satisfactory as Amy finally accepts the death of her cousin, and Kevin vanquishes his enemy, his father, at least for now. Charnas entertains the reader while getting in some good points about the cycle of child abuse. The Kingdom of Kevin Malone should appeal to a wide audience.
The ALAN Review Hazel K. Davis
Winter 1994 Athens, Ohio

Clip and File Reviews of New Fiction Hardbacks
Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Mazer, Anne
The Oxboy
Reviewed by
Ted Hipple
Professor of Education
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee

Reiss, Kathryn
Dreadful Sorry
Reviewed by
Margaret J. Ford
Librarian
Memorial High School
Campbell, Ohio

Pace, Sue
The Last Oasis
Reviewed by
Michael Angelotti
Associate Dean, College of Education
University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma

Norman, Roger
Albion's Dream
Reviewed by
Judy Markham Beckman
Professor of Education
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa

The Oxboy by Anne Mazer Fantasy/Prejudice
Knopf, 1993. 109 pp. $13.00 ISBN: 0-679-84191-1
Some time in the distant past or the distant future, animals and humans could mate and have offspring. One such beast/child is Oxboy, the strapping son of an ox and a woman, and this book is his first-person account of his early life. Though Oxboy's first five years passed pleasantly, trouble then came to the peaceable kingdom in the form of killers paid by powerful humans who wanted "mixed bloods" (like Oxboy) removed in order to purify the race. Oxboy's father had to go into hiding, and Oxboy and his mother had to exercise considerable care to keep his parentage a secret. It was not easy, as Oxboy looked different from other humans -- bulkier, stronger, hairier. What happens to Oxboy will keep readers of all ages turning the pages of this brief but important book and thinking seriously about who we are and how we treat those different from ourselves. This work is, in my judgment, a most significant novel.
The ALAN Review Ted Hipple
Winter 1994 University of Tennessee

The Last Oasis by Sue Pace Science Fiction
Delacorte, 1993. 230 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-385-30881-7
Sue Pace creates a unique piece of science fiction that projects a nearly-depleted ozone world after the Oil Wars. Pollution and nuclear contamination bring about humankind's worst environmental nightmare, leaving enclosed malls and hydroponic gardens as the only remnants of civilization. The novel chronicles their tense journey as fugitives from Portland to the hydroponics labs in Idaho. Implicit in every mile along the way are the issues of environmental survival and fundamental human relationships, particularly, love and respect for human life. The novel should appeal to many middle-school and high-school students and could lead to any number of thematic units focused on contemporary issues. Although The Last Oasis is classified as science fiction, it isn't heavily so, and focuses on adolescent life as well as futurism.
The ALAN Review Michael Angelotti
Winter 1994 University of Oklahoma

Dreadful Sorry by Kathryn Reiss Supernatural/Reincarnation
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993. 340 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-15-224213-9
The terrifying nightmares that have been haunting Molly Teague take on a new dimension of horror. Her fear of drowning, the wavering image in the mirror of a Molly in a period dress, a mysterious room, and the strains of "Oh My Darlin' Clementine" invade her waking hours. The mystery and suspense climax when Molly discovers that the mysterious room of her dreams exists in the old house that Bill Teague, her father, and his new young wife have purchased in Maine.
Reiss skillfully blends the local history of the Halloway family, the original owners of Molly's father's house, with believable characters. Jared Bernstein, Molly's confederate, and Grace Wilkins, the local librarian/historian, help Molly discover her relationship with Clementine Horn, the reflection in the mirror. An added bonus is Reiss's realistic portrayal of the tensions of a family separated by divorce and remarriage.
The ALAN Review Margaret J. Ford
Winter 1994 Memorial High School, Campbell, Ohio

Albion's Dream by Roger Norman Fantasy Games/School/Self-Knowledge
Delacorte, 1990. 209 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-385-30533-8
Edward uncovers a worn, dusty game box hidden behind a stack of family books. Further snooping unearths his father's warning against playing the game, as well as a second warning written years later by his mother. Tempted beyond good sense, Edward and his cousin begin to play. They quickly discover the game cards bear ominous resemblances to their school's headmaster and other faculty members. Lured on despite the warnings, they see the threatening outcomes of the game begin to materialize as events in their own lives.
Captivated by alluring language, a death, and a shattered romance, readers join Edward and Hadley as they weigh scientific facts against superstitions and powers that cannot be convincingly explained. Uniquely complex characters who may possess lives in the past, present, and future make Albion's Dream a cliffhanger with great appeal for readers in grades 6 through 10.
The ALAN Review Judy Markham Beckman
Winter 1994 University of Northern Iowa


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