The Alan Review
Current Editors
Steven Bickmore sbick@lsu.edu
Jacqueline Bach jbach@lsu.edu
Melanie Hundley melanie.hundley@vanderbilt.edu
Volume 22, Number 2
Winter 1995


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Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Cushman, Karen
Catherine Called Birdy

Reviewed by Charles R. Duke
Dean, College of Education and Human Services
Clarion University
Clarion, Pennsylvania

Hansen, Joyce
The Captive

Reviewed by Jeanne M. McGlinn
Lecturer
Department of Education
University of North Carolina-Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina

Schur, Maxine Rose
The Circlemaker

Reviewed by Bonnie O. Ericson
Professor of Education
California State University-Northridge
Northridge, California

Carter, Peter
The Hunted

Reviewed by John Jacob
Associate Professor of English
North Central College
Naperville, Illinois

Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman Historical Fiction
Clarion Books, 1994. 174 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-395-68186-3
Catherine, known as Birdy because of her love for various kinds of birds, is a headstrong fourteen-year old living in medieval England. Her brother Edward suggests she keep a diary so she will become more learned and less childish. Catherine's year-long record of her daily activities gives readers a detailed account of life in the late 1200s. Catherine's father wants her to marry, but she fights all the way, setting fire to the privy while one of her suitors is inside, disguising herself as a very ugly serving girl, and finally running away. This is not a fast-moving or highly plotted story, but it is rich with details of life in a medieval home of limited means. For history buffs, the story should prove interesting. Girls will be far more attracted to it than boys and will undoubtedly identify with the struggle women had in defining their role in a world dominated by men.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Charles R. Duke Clarion University

The Circlemaker by Maxine Rose Schur Historical Fiction
Dial, 1994. 182 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 0-8037-1354-1
To escape a 25-year conscription into Czar Nicholas I's army, twelve-year-old Mendel flees his beloved home and family. In this deftly told, action-packed story, Mendel faces many dangers and conflicts, including his own fears and a choice about doing what is right (or, as his father says, "closing the circle"). Mendel is a believable character in an exciting book that vividly brings to life a terrible time in history for Russian Jews.
The Circlemaker
is an excellent choice for junior-high or middle-school students to read with Holocaust literature, to give perspective on the treatment of Jewish people in another time period. It would also be an excellent choice for group reading in thematic units on courage, heroes, or important decisions. Finally, it would be an outstanding selection for reading aloud to classes, particularly in grades 5 through 7. In all these situations, there are rich possibilities for discussion and writing.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Bonnie O. Ericson California State University-Northridge

The Captive by Joyce Hansen Historical Fiction/Slavery
Scholastic, 1994. 195 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-41625-1
This novel represents a new direction for Joyce Hansen from the contemporary realistic fiction of The Gift-Giver and Yellow Bird and Me. Here are the memories of Kofi, the twelve-year-old son of a great chief in the Ashanti Kingdom of West Africa, who is treacherously kidnapped and sold to slave traders. Kofi's experiences take on a surreal quality as he encounters shock after shock. From the terror of the Middle Passage to his first experience of snow in the harsh new England winter, Kofi is forced into a disorienting and violent world that negates everything he knows about life and how people should treat each other.
Hansen packs in lots of historical and cultural information drawn from two primary sources: the slave narrative of Gustavus Vassa and the biography of Paul Cuffe, a free African American who fought against slavery in Massachusetts in the late eighteenth century. Hansen's story is a fitting addition to a social studies unit.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Jeanne M. McGlinn University of North Carolina-Asheville

The Hunted by Peter Carter World War II/Holocaust
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993. 326 pp. $17.00 ISBN: 0-374-33520-6
Peter Carter tells two stories here. One story is about the brave, stolid Italian soldier stuck with a young Jewish boy in war-torn France just as Italy pulls out of the war. The other is a story of evil, represented by a man named Palet, one of the Fascist French police. Palet literally goes mad trying to find the rough Italian and the young Jewish boy.
This is not a book for the squeamish. As Carter tells his tale, he relates more and more about Palet and his fixation on the Italian and the Jew, and the fact that his orders come from the infamous Klaus Barbie from Lyons, who is accountable to Adolf Hitler.
This is a story of resistance by the Italian soldiers and by many of the French, and of a heroic act at the Swiss border. It keeps the reader wanting more, and it never fails to deliver a twist here, an unexpected change there. It is a book well worth a young reader's time, especially those unfamiliar with the role of the Italians in World War II.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
John Jacob North Central College

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

Henegham, James
Torn Away

Reviewed by John Noell Moore
Instructor in English
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia

Barrie, Barbara
Adam Zigzag

Reviewed by Anne Sherrill
Professor of English
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, Tennessee

Kehret, Peg
Night of Fear

Reviewed by Jennifer Moreland
Media Specialist
Redlands Middle School
Grand Junction, Colorado

Tamar, Erika
The Things I Did Last Summer

Reviewed by Marjorie M. Kaiser
Professor of Secondary Education
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky

Torn Away by James Henegham Social Issues/Family
Viking, 1994. 185 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-670-85180-9
Almost half of this novel deals with thirteen-year-old terrorist Declan Boyle's attempts to escape when his Uncle Matthew has him kidnapped in Belfast and brought to safety deep in the Canadian woods. Driven to return to Ireland to avenge the brutal deaths of his father, mother, and sister, Declan encounters others once homeless -- an elderly woman, a child with Downs Syndrome, and a Native America "brother." Stubbornly resistant to Christian charity and efforts to "fix" him, at last he accepts his new world. Set against the sisterly love of Ana, Declan's recurring nightmares and Matthew and Kate Boyles' detailed stories of Irish terrorism offer gripping images of the costs of war that will catch and hold the imaginations of middle-school readers. Torn Away clearly describes issues of modern Northern Ireland and should set the stage for further historical research and discussion.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
John Noell Moore Virginia Tech

Night of Fear by Peg Kehret Alzheimer's Disease/Arson
Cobblehill Books, 1994. 138 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-525-65136-5
T.J. is ashamed of himself for letting the school bully push him around. T.J. is also ashamed of his impatience with his once-beloved Grandma Ruth, who now has Alzheimer's Disease. When he is kidnapped by a psychotic arsonist, leaving his grandmother alone and confused in a neighbor's barn, he discovers that Grandma Ruth has taught him valuable lessons that help him deal with a dangerous situation and stand up for what he knows is right.
This story of courage and self-discovery will appeal to middle-school boys and girls alike. T.J.'s attempts to escape and his unwilling participation in the arsonist's crime create a taut, suspenseful story. His rediscovery of love and respect for his grandmother lends a satisfying, introspective element. Night of Fear would make a good read-aloud novel; each chapter ends in such a way as to keep listeners on the edges of their seats.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Jennifer Moreland Redlands Middle School

Adam Zigzag by Barbara Barrie Dyslexia
Delacorte, 1994. 181 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-31172-9
Adam hates reading and writing. Throughout his school years he is in and out of private institutions in New York City because public schools cannot serve dyslexic students. He hesitates to use a telephone because he fears he will dial the wrong numbers; he gets letters in his last name mixed; he worries because he is unable to read the passage assigned him for his bar mitzvah ceremony. A crisis with drugs makes him realize he has allowed dyslexia to overshadow his talent in sports, music, and acting.
The book spans Adam's life from elementary through high school. Narration alternates between Adam and his older sister Caroline, who offers a glimpse of the effect of Adam's dyslexia on a loving and supportive family. Adam's viewpoint offers a well detailed and informative account of the frustrations connected with dyslexia and the sense of worth that results from developing strategies to deal with it.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Anne Sherrill East Tennessee State University

The Hunted by Peter Carter World War II/Holocaust
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993. 326 pp. $17.00 ISBN: 0-374-33520-6
Peter Carter tells two stories here. One story is about the brave, stolid Italian soldier stuck with a young Jewish boy in war-torn France just as Italy pulls out of the war. The other is a story of evil, represented by a man named Palet, one of the Fascist French police. Palet literally goes mad trying to find the rough Italian and the young Jewish boy.
This is not a book for the squeamish. As Carter tells his tale, he relates more and more about Palet and his fixation on the Italian and the Jew, and the fact that his orders come from the infamous Klaus Barbie from Lyons, who is accountable to Adolf Hitler.
This is a story of resistance by the Italian soldiers and by many of the French, and of a heroic act at the Swiss border. It keeps the reader wanting more, and it never fails to deliver a twist here, an unexpected change there. It is a book well worth a young reader's time, especially those unfamiliar with the role of the Italians in World War II.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
John Jacob North Central College

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

Castañeda, Omar S.
Imagining Isabel

Reviewed by Connie S. Zitlow
Associate Professor of Education
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, Ohio

Williams, Michael
The Genuine Half-Moon Kid

Reviewed by Chris Crowe
Associate Professor of English
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Carmody, Isobelle
The Gathering

Reviewed by Lisa J. McClure
Associate Professor of English
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, Illinois

Nolan, Han
If I Should Die Before I Wake

Reviewed by Jeffrey S. Kaplan
Visiting Assistant Professor
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

Imagining Isabel by Omar S. Castañeda Mayas/Guatemala
Lodestar Books, 1994. 200 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-67431-4
When she explored the bundle of tokens passed down from eleven generations of women, sixteen-year-old Isabel learned that her dying mother had approved her marriage to Lucas. Soon, however, Isabel felt doubt and fear as she left her traditional Mayan village to accept the government's invitation to attend a teacher-training program. She successfully managed her studies while still caring for her young sister. Yet, she was haunted by mysterious events and people. Who was really in control of Isabel? of all the people of Guatemala? Isabel wanted to decide the person she would become instead of letting others "imagine" her life for her.
A sequel to Among the Volcanoes, this coming-of-age story shows the impact on a loving, intelligent female of the cultural and political conflicts in Central America. This book, recommended for middle- and high-school readers, is dedicated to the heroes of the Massacre of Santiago Atitlán in 1990.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Connie S. Zitlow Ohio Wesleyan University

The Gathering by Isobelle Carmody Australia/Suspense
Dial Books, 1994. 279 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-8037-1716-4
Carmody's first U.S. publication offers a story of suspense and horror, a timeless story of good versus evil -- in this case, pitting children against adults. Nathaniel, dragged to Cheshut by his seemingly unsettled mother, senses immediately the darkness that envelopes the town but struggles to believe that evil can exist in such proportions. Blinded by their desire to create a safe place to raise their children and by their own disbelief in the reality of evil, the adults of the town, including Nathaniel's mother, are oblivious to the darkness that threatens them. Nathaniel and four other youths answer the "Call" to attempt a "Healing" by "Forging" their individual "symbols" into a "Chain."
Carmody is a skillful storyteller, and her novel presents many opportunities to explore symbolism and metaphor. Beware, however: The Gathering is darkly disturbing and violent. Teaching it will require careful preparation. It is, nevertheless, worth the effort.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Lisa J. McClure Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

The Genuine Half-Moon Kid by Michael Williams Family Problems/South Africa
Lodestar Books, 1994. 199 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-67470-5
Though set in South Africa, this story is more about a boy searching for meaning and identity than it is about his country. The men in Jason Watson's family have been notoriously unreliable; and, as he approaches his eighteenth birthday, he wonders what kind of man, what kind of person, he will be. His life gains some focus when he discovers that his late grandfather left a mysterious yellowwood box as Jason's legacy. Hoping that it will provide answers about his past and future, Jason sets off in search of his grandfather's last -- and only -- gift. His quest leads him and his multicultural friends through South African cities, townships, and bush. Williams presents Jason realistically and sensitively, using occasional interior monologues to emphasize his ambivalence and insecurity. Most young adults will relate to the urgency that Jason feels to discover his identity and his place within his fragmented family.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Chris Crowe Brigham Young University

If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan Holocaust
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 225 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-15-238040-X
As I write, Schindler's List plays nearby and Florida's governor has just signed a bill requiring the study of the Holocaust and the topic of genocide to become regular fixtures of the secondary-school curriculum. It is ironic that I am asked to review If I Die Before I Wake, the first-person-singular story of a Neo-Nazi skinhead who becomes transformed into a caring and loving human being.
Knocked into a coma by a motorcycle accident, Hilary, the Neo-Nazi initiate, lands in a Jewish hospital, where, moving in and out of consciousness, she travels through her dreams to Poland at the onset of World War II. There, in her mind's eye, she becomes, of all people, Chana, a young Jewish girl whose family has been sent by the Nazis to live in a Jewish ghetto. In Chana's horrifying world, death is an everyday occurrence and the next stop for most of its residents is Auschwitz. This is a good read, perfect to accompany a discussion of Schindler's List, and invaluable as a resource to understanding the incomprehensible.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Jeffrey S. Kaplan University of Central Florida

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

Block, Francesca Lia
The Hanged Man

Reviewed by Teri S. Lesesne
Assistant Professor, Library Science
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas

Rapp, Adam
Missing the Piano

Reviewed by Hazel K. Davis
Athens, Ohio

Ruby, Lois
Skin Deep

Reviewed by Lisa Wroble
Plymouth, Michigan

Cooney, Caroline B.
Drivers's Ed

Reviewed by Michaeline Chance-Reay
Adjunct Instructor of English
Columbus State Community College
Columbus, Ohio

The Hanged Man by Francesca Lia Block Coming of Age
HarperCollins, 1994. 128 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 0-06-024536-0
Laurel lives near the Hollywood sign outside of Los Angeles. In many ways, she is like the city: wild and unpredictable. Still mourning the death of her father, Laurel is looking for something or someone to help her make sense of her life. Jack is mysterious and dangerous: Laurel is attracted to him immediately. Her relationship with him leads her on a spiraling descent into the secrets of her life and of those around her. Block, best known for her offbeat Weetzie Bat books, has certainly taken a different tack in her latest work. This is a disturbingly real look at life in the fast lane. Laurel and her friends grapple with the demons of real life (i.e., drugs, sex, death) with harsh consequences. Tarot cards figure prominently as metaphorical devices in each chapter. This is a book likely to meet with not a few censorship challenges. For mature readers, though, it offers a riveting read.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Teri S. Lesesne Sam Houston State University

Skin Deep by Lois Ruby Neo-Nazism
Scholastic, 1994. 204 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-590-47699-8
Dan Penner's senior year in high school is off to a rough start. He and his family have moved so that his sisters can attend the University of Colorado. The high-school swim coach tells him there's no room on the team for a new student. He cannot find a job. Their dinky townhouse is suffocating. His mother and sister argue constantly. And his only companion is his girlfriend Laurel Grady.
When a mishap leads him into the midst of a neo-Nazi group, he finds himself drawn to their fraternity. Their dogma addresses his rising anger and frustration, and he slowly becomes initiated into the group.
Skin Deep
explores many issues, including love, freedom of speech, racism, prejudice, and standing up for one's beliefs. Ruby offers no easy resolutions to these tough subjects. Since the story alternates between Dan's and Laurel's viewpoints, the reader's eyes are opened to the reality of severe hatred.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Lisa Wroble Plymouth, Michigan

Missing the Piano by Adam Rapp Family Problems/Friendship
Viking, 1994. 198 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-670-85340-2
Mike's world begins to fall apart when his younger sister gets an acting role with a touring company and Mike is sent to live with his father and his father's new wife. Because his stepmother does not want Mike around, he is enrolled in a Wisconsin military school, much to Mike's dismay. His only source of comfort is basketball. Despite run-ins with his cruel sergeant, the dismissal of his roommate, and a near nervous breakdown, Mike decides to stay at the school and make the best of it. Many of the situations and characters remind me of The Catcher in the Rye and The Chocolate War. The raw language, racial slurs, violence, and sexual comments could cause difficulty in many classrooms. However, this is one of those books that should have great appeal to young male readers.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Hazel K. Davis Athens, Ohio

Driver's Ed by Caroline B. Cooney Coming of Age/Relationships/Death
Delacorte Press, 1994. 184 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-385-32087-6
Two fifteen-year-old sweethearts, Remy Marland and Morgan Campbell, share the excitement of Driver's Education. They can't wait to get that all-important first driver's license. Rides through the countryside with their jaded teacher and various classmates inspire what they consider a harmless game. In reality it is an act of vandalism that ends in death. The adventure all too quickly has taken them from their innocent, invincible, childhood realm to the place called adulthood, where they are expected to be responsible for their actions. The tragedy brings out the worst and the best in both adolescents and adults. Their coping mechanisms reveal much. Caroline Cooney again tackles serious subjects while weaving a powerful plot together with realistic dialogue and characterization. Students ages twelve to eighteen, parents, and teachers would all learn from, and be moved by, this narrative.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Michaeline Chance-Reay Columbus State Community College

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

Klass, David
California Blue

Reviewed by Hugh Agee
Professor of English Education
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia

Rodowsky, Colby
Hannah In Between

Reviewed by Hollis Lowery-Moore
Associate Professor of Education
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas

Burgess, Barbara Hood
The Fred Field

Reviewed by Gary D. Schmidt
Professor of English
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Haseley, Dennis
Getting Him

Reviewed by James E. Davis
Professor of English
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

California Blue by David Klass Family Relationships/Environment
Scholastic, 1994. 200 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46688-7
In a northern California mill town, seventeen-year-old John Rodgers lives in the shadow of his athletic father, who, like many in the community, is a lumber-mill employee. After learning that his father has leukemia, John, a distance runner, goes for a run in the forest to sort out his feelings. In the process he discovers a new species of butterfly. He shares his find with Miss Merrill, his attractive biology teacher, who provides an intellectual model for him but who is also someone he regards romantically. Her former professor confirms the California Blue, leading to a clash between environmentalists and the townspeople, and, in particular, between John and his father. In the aftermath of the confrontation, John's father for the first time comes to watch John run in a meet, and the two are drawn closer as each gains important insights about the other. By the end of the book, the environmental issue is still not resolved, but readers may assume that a reasonable compromise will occur.
Klass tells a good story with a viable theme that will interest high-school readers.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Hugh Agee The University of Georgia

The Fred Field by Barbara Hood Burgess Growing Up in Detroit
Delacorte Press, 1994. 180 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-31070-6
In this sequel to Oren Bell, the presence of Freddy Lightfoot continues to hover over the Bell family, his still unsolved murder being part of the motivation for many of the plot situations. But his presence does not brood as much as it leads to both joyful and humorous episodes. When the crack house in which Freddy is murdered is levelled, Oren founds the Fred Field, a place where kids from his neighborhood and nearby areas come together peacefully to play basketball and softball. One of the rival gang leaders is softened by his connection with this field, and eventually comes to help Oren and his sister on an art project recovering a lost neighborhood. Together those that Oren has brought together solve the mystery of the murder and celebrate the wedding of Oren's mother. The large cast of characters is varied and engaging; this is a large family filled with love and foibles, grace and humor. It mirrors the large number of plot situations in the novel, all connected somehow to the memory of Fred Lightfoot. The Bell family's desire to stay in inner-city Detroit -- even when leaving becomes possible -- comes out of the family's strong commitment to their neighbors and a belief that their traditions, art, and cultural ties are a heritage too important to abandon -- an important message for young readers.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Gary D. Schmidt Calvin College

Hannah In Between by Colby Rodowsky Alcoholism/Family Problems
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 152 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-374-32837-4
Hannah's comfortable world is crumbling, and it is all because her mother drinks too much. The worst part is that nobody else seems to notice. Young adolescents will empathize with Hannah's embarrassment when her photographer mother almost falls into the wedding cake while taking pictures at a reception and agonize with Hannah as she collects the empty vodka bottles hidden throughout the beach house during summer vacation. Rodowsky uses the predictable problem-novel format, including the hopeful ending that makes a book about alcoholism acceptable to middle graders. However, the characters are believable and the book can be a valuable resource in health and life skills classes for units on alcohol abuse.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Hollis Lowery-Moore Sam Houston State University

Getting Him by Dennis Haseley Revenge
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 158 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374-32536-7
When Donald decides to go along with a revenge plan concocted by some older schoolmates against his misfit neighbor Harold, he is in for a more major role than he intended. His part of the plan is first to befriend Harold in order to find out all he can about him and then possibly to use Harold's deepest fears against him. However, things don't turn out quite that way. Spying becomes something of an obsession for Donald. In the process he learns much about astronomy as well as himself, Harold, and others. Characters are well developed, even if their motivations sometimes stretch the bounds of credibility. The plot is interesting although a little far-fetched. Still, it should keep readers turning pages to the end.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
James A. Davis Ohio University

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

Lawrence, Louise
The Patchwork People

Reviewed by Ruth K. J. Cline
Professor Emerita
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado

Wulffson, Don L.
Time Fix and Other Tales of Terror

Reviewed by John H. Bushman
Professor of English Education
University of Kansas
Ottawa, Kansas

Reiss, Kathryn
Pale Phoenix

Reviewed by Margaret J. Ford
Library/Media Specialist
Campbell-Memorial High School
Campbell, Ohio

Westall, Robert
Shades of Darkness

Reviewed by Al Muller
Professor of English
East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina

The Patchwork People by Louise Lawrence Fantasy/Dystopia
Houghton Mifflin, 1994. 230 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-395-67892-7
First published in London in 1994 as The Dispossessed (Bodley Head Children's Books), this book is set in Wales in the future. Amid limited resources, unemployment, violent gangs and crime, Helena falls in love with Hugh, who saved her from a gang when she was on her way home for a school holiday. The rich girl/poor boy romance is played out amid coal mines, strikes, poverty, and dominant parents. Although the setting is in the future, the story has the pall of economic despair found in parts of today's world. The patchwork people come to the coal-mining town at the end of the story and offer "alternative careers advisory service," meaning Hugh and his friends will farm and become self-sufficient and even Helena will become useful. Middle school readers may be less critical of the trite plot and rather predictable ending while learning about the effects of poverty.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Ruth K. J. Cline University of Colorado

Pale Phoenix by Kathryn Reiss Supernatural/Time Travel
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994. 326 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-200003-5
Miranda Brown, the heroine of Reiss' first novel, Time Windows, returns to explore the mysterious past and present of Abby Chandler, an orphan who is taken in by Miranda's parents. Along with Dan Hooton, a long-time friend, Miranda tries to unravel the mystery of the girl who seems to disappear into thin air surrounded by mournful weeping.
Reiss' novel explores the possibility of time travel and, peripherally, the concept of the value and quality of life. Preservation of local history is featured through the restoration of Prindle House, the site to which Abby seems to be connected. Changing relationships are also explored as Abby realizes that her almost-fraternal relationship with Dan is blossoming into a romantic connection.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Margaret J. Ford Campbell-Memorial High School

Time Fix and Other Tales of Terror by Don L. Wulffson Horror/Suspense
Cobblehill Books, 1994. 85 pp. $13.99 ISBN: 0-525-65140-3
Eight tales of horror and suspense make up this collection. The theme of the collection may attract young adult readers, as will the style and quality of writing. The tales are short and quite predictable, not suitable for in-depth study. In one tale entitled "Time Fix," Dr. Elliott Feller has created a time-fix television that picks up programs from the past as well as the future. When tomorrow's news reports his own death in an auto accident in another city at 5:30 p.m., he changes his flight plans to depart an hour later. The terror occurs when he leaves the airport and realizes he is in a different city in a different time zone and it is now 5:30. Some of the tales have young adults as main characters; most do not. However, the horror theme in each tale as well as the brevity may offer an enjoyable quick read.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
John H. Bushman University of Kansas

Shades of Darkness by Robert Westall Ghost Stories
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994. 368 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374-36758-2
This posthumous anthology of ghost stories is not recommended, despite the author's earned distinction and acclaim.
First, with ghost stories, the reader expects ghosts; so, the emphasis should be on dealing with the ghost or about the ghost. Reading twenty pages waiting for the character to discover a ghost requires great patience. Next, the details in these stories are dated. Myriad references to chamber pots, co-op milk horses, Marlene Dietrich, or Anderson Shelter add little except remoteness. Finally, the dialogue is frequently obscure: for example, "fo'teen bairns," "Aah Knaa," or "caged as a budgie."
Popular fiction should be enjoyable and readily accessible. These stories aren't, at least not to the contemporary American adolescent.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Al Muller East Carolina University

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

Rinaldi, Ann
A Stitch in Time

Reviewed by Joan F. Kaywell
Associate Professor of English Education
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

Karr, Kathleen
The Cave

Reviewed by Joan Nist
Professor Emerita
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama

Myers, Walter Dean
The Glory Field

Reviewed by Ted Hipple
Professor of Education
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee

Holland, Isabelle
Behind the Lines

Reviewed by Edna Earl Edwards
Professor of Education and English
West Georgia College
Carrollton, Georgia

A Stitch in Time by Ann Rinaldi The Revolution/Family Issues
Scholastic, 1994. 305 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46055-2
Using a quilt as the centerpiece for this first book in "The Quilt Trilogy," Rinaldi weaves an intricate and provocative story about the Chelmsford family -- twelve-year-old Cabot, thirteen-year-old Thankful, fifteen-year-old Abigail, seventeen-year-old Hannah, nineteen-year-old Lawrence, and their controlling father -- set in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1788. Hannah tells this story borne of Rinaldi's "desire to write about a family that gets torn apart, seemingly by events outside the home, but actually due to dark undercurrents from within, undercurrents that reach out from the past, like threads which begin to unravel under the pressure of everyday life and threaten the very fabric of its existence."
In the "Author's Note," Rinaldi reveals her research process and the historical facts upon which the story is based. Two more novels will follow in this series, reuniting the family right before the Civil War, "with the pieces of the quilt owned by their descendants." This book is an outstanding beginning to "The Quilt Trilogy."
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Joan F. Kaywell University of South Florida

The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers Black History
Scholastic, 1994. 340 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-590-44893-3
A "Roots for young adults," Walter Dean Myers' Glory Field traces one African-American family from its slave origins to present-day Harlem, doing so in a series of episodes that involve five different generations of the same family. Myers begins, briefly, with captured African Muhammed Bilal, who is enslaved on Curry Island, South Carolina, and establishes what becomes the Lewis family, first slaves, then struggling land owners, finally successful and not-so-successful urban dwellers. Though young readers may be a bit frustrated as Myers sometimes ends episodes at climactic moments, they will nonetheless learn through his vivid stories what life was like for Black families in this country, then and now. This well-written and valuable telling of an American history, too often shortchanged in textbook, merits -- and will reward -- every reader's attention.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Ted Hipple University of Tennessee

The Cave by Kathleen Karr Great Depression/Caves
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 165 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374-31230-3
Christine is almost thirteen and accidentally finds "the very first and only private thing in her entire life" (p. 15): a cave. It is the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, dustbowl, and drought in South Dakota, where the family lives. Kathleen Karr evokes a sense of desolation, not only of landscape but also of people, in Christine's younger asthmatic brother Michael, with whom she shares the secret of the cave, and in her hard-working father, who fears that they must abandon the family farm. While the narrative provides suspense and adventure in descriptions of Christine's and Michael's underground explorations, Karr's theme includes Christine's sense of environmental responsibility: "We tried to get something out of the cave, instead of enjoying ... its wonders" (p. 84). Cave treasures and long-awaited rain enable them to keep the farm, while the climax of danger provides protection for the cave itself. The book can be read as a modern companion to another cave classic, Tom Sawyer.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Joan Nist Auburn University

Behind the Lines by Isabelle Holland History/Relationships
Scholastic, 1994. 240 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-45113-8
Kate O'Patrick, fourteen-year-old Irish immigrant kitchen maid, helps support her family after her mother's death. She takes responsibility for her younger siblings, going home to them as often as possible. Her independent spirit threatens her position with the cook, who prefers employing an acquaintance.
Kate becomes friends with Jimmy, a black, educated, handicapped stable boy -- the son of a slave. Her friendship with Jimmy gives her a perspective that is different from that of many other Irish settlers during the 1860s.
Holland involves the reader in the conflicts of the time period. Her book will appeal especially to readers who are between the ages of 12 and 14.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Edna Earl Edwards West Georgia College

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

Rosenberg, Maxine B.
Hiding to Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Rescued From the Holocaust

Reviewed by Richard F. Abrahamson
Professor of Literature
University of Houston
Houston, Texas

Freedman, Russell
Kids at Work

Reviewed by Alan M. McLeod
Professor of English Education
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia

Paulsen, Gary
Father Water, Mother Woods: Essays on Fishing and Hunting in the North Woods

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

Bode, Janet, and Stan Mack
Heartbreak and Roses: Real Life Stories of Troubled Love

Reviewed by Barbara G. Samuels
Associate Professor of Language Arts and Reading
University of Houston, Clear Lake
Clear Lake, Texas

Hiding to Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Biography/Holocaust
Rescued From the Holocaust
by Maxine B. Rosenberg ISBN: 0-395-65014-3
Clarion, 1994. 166 pp. $15.95
Imagine being part of a Jewish family in Europe during the Holocaust. Children, of course, wanted to stay with the parents, but parents knew that staying together increased the risk that all would be killed. Many made the gut-wrenching decision to hand their children to Gentiles, hoping these strangers would hide their children from the Nazis.
Some of those children, now in their fifties and sixties, met in 1991 at an international conference to tell their stories. Rosenberg has collected fourteen first-person accounts of these survivors. What shines through is the children's will to survive and the courage it took to hide them. The survivor's tales of hiding in hen houses and above ceilings; of trying to keep two-year-old siblings from crying out; and of receiving messages telling them of dead mothers and fathers make the artificial horror in books by Pike and Stine seem tame. Seldom in one book do you find such graphic examples of the horrendous evil human beings are capable of juxtaposed against the incredible acts of goodness some of us can achieve.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Richard F. Abrahamson University of Houston

Father Water, Mother Woods: Essays Essays/Outdoors
on Fishing and Hunting in the North Woods
by Gary Paulsen ISBN: 0-385-32053-1
Delacorte, 1994. 159 pp. $16.95
Before there was Hatchet, before there was Canyons, before The Island, before Nightjohn, before Woodsong and all the other award-winning books, there was the boy. And there were the streams, and the rivers, and the lakes and woods in northern Minnesota to which the boy could escape. Escape the drinking and the fighting and the pain at home. This is where the stories all began. For real.
With affectionate details, the man takes us to those places -- those special places -- and shows us how to catch fish, shoot rabbits, hunt grouse and deer and ducks. But especially fish. First come the suckers. Then the northern pike. Next, sunfish -- called "bulls." Followed by suckers again. The rock-bass and bullheads and walleyes and, again, pike. There are lures -- bought and made -- and worms; and there are spears, bows, and arrows. There is fishing in rivers, in drainage ditches, at the dam, beneath the bridge, through the ice. Seemingly endless. But lovingly described. Like no other man can describe it.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Donald R. Gallo Central Connecticut State University

Kids at Work by Russell Freedman Child Labor/Photography
Clarion Books, 1994. 104 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-395-58073-4
The subtitle for Kids at Work -- Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor -- defines the "documentary" focus. Hine, a teacher-photographer, was so disturbed about child industrial labor that he became an investigative reporter. His photographs of children at work, sometimes children as young as three years old -- working as newsboys, shrimp-pickers, and farmhands; laboring in cotton mills, coal mines and canneries -- contributed to important changes in labor laws. The stark black-and-white pictures play an important role as well in Freedman's tracing the social reforms needed and Hine's contributions. The book should appeal to younger adolescents interested in photography, in social reform, or in understanding how life was different for many youths earlier in this century.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Alan M. McLeod Virginia Commonwealth University

Heartbreak and Roses: Real Life Looking for Love
Stories of Troubled Love
by Janet Bode and Stan Mack ISBN: 0-385-32068-X
Delacorte Press, 1994. 159 pp. $15.95
"When I was a kid, I thought one day Prince Charming would come into my life," says Ofelia. Like all the teens in this collection of true stories, Ofelia is looking for love. Ofelia's story is one of the more uplifting ones. Confined to a wheel chair and protected by parents who love her, Ofelia decides at age 17 to have sex with her boyfriend. Working out logistics is the complicated part for her. In another story, Louis meets thirteen-year-old Maura during the summer before tenth grade. He spends all his money and time with her, forgetting his other friends and family. After five months, she starts flirting with other guys. Eventually, Louis realizes that a girlfriend cannot possess every minute of his life. Other teens stories involve abusive and obsessive relationships, suicide attempts, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, and pain. Reading these frank descriptions of attempts by junior-high- and high-school-age teens struggling with heartbreak may help young people feel thankful for their own problems and realize they are not alone.
The ALAN Review
Winter 1995
Barbara G. Samuels University of Houston-Clear Lake


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