The Alan Review
Current Editors
Steven Bickmore sbick@lsu.edu
Jacqueline Bach jbach@lsu.edu
Melanie Hundley melanie.hundley@vanderbilt.edu
Volume 25, Number 2
Winter 1998


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So You Think You Know Young Adult Literature:
Summerstuff

Jim Brewbaker
Columbus State University

By March, many kids — and let’s face it, more than a few of their teachers — begin the end-of-the-school-year countdown. Though regrettable, perhaps, this is natural enough, whether the kids and the teachers are in Oregon, Idaho, or Alabama. For adolescents, summer means being outdoors, adventures real and imagined, travels, and the absence of adult supervision. For teachers, summer means time for the family and time for recharging the professional batteries.

Remembering their own teenage years, perhaps, writers for young adults provide a wealth of books that begin and end in the summer. So, if you wish, begin your own end-of-the-year countdown by pondering the summer scenarios described in the left column and match them with the titles and the authors listed in the right column.

1. A five-year-old boy spends the summer with his youthful, hard-working grandmother in the northern reaches of Minnesota during World War II.

2.At the lake, Bobby Marks foils the local hoods, works hard mowing lawns, and loses weight.

3.Each morning Todd sees a boy climb out the window of his neighbor Paula’s house. Though blessed with "the body of a goddess" Paula turns out to be facing major family problems.

4.Following graduation, Wags and five friends are determined to party and soak up the rays at Ocean City, but become involved with a group of leviathans instead.

5.Four teens — Chris, Vicki, Elizabeth, and Faith — spend the summer as interns at a Pulitzer Prize-winning small-town newspaper.

6.In a psychologically-charged adventure, Jessie and her companions get all they bargained for and more while canoeing in Arizona’s Grand Canyon.

7.In a three-week summer camp, Elvin reluctantly tries to figure out how to find his role in the private school he will enter in September.

8.In Baltimore and on the Maryland coast, Brenton spends his eighteenth summer with his friend Christian, four years after the latter boy had moved away with his family.

9.In the forties, Patty Bergen, a Jewish girl living in Arkansas, befriends a prisoner of war.

10.Jessie, a Virginia thirteen-year-old demonstrates her affection for an older boy by adopting a nonconventional mode of attire.

11.Kendra Kay, a Manhattan fourteen-year-old is obliged to entertain her older cousin Frank, visiting from Wisconsin for the entire summer.

12.Now fourteen, Grayling has been raised by her grandmother, but this summer she will visit her mother in San Francisco and meet Dancer, a strange young man.

13.Saddened by his parents’ arguments and his father’s passivity, Brian falls asleep in a child’s castle; when he awakens, he has traveled through time to his father’s childhood.

14.Teens on a backpacking trek discover that their parents have paid good money to make sure they don’t return.

15.Victims of a cruel joke, Howie and Laura are left naked in the middle of the night on a small island near camp.

16.Visiting his grandfather’s Oklahoma ranch, twelve-year-old Carl finds a magnificent wild Appaloosa horse whom he later names Thunderfoot.

17.When her aunt’s friend dies under mysterious circumstances, Jenny and Freddy — vacationing in Hawaii — determine to find out what really happened.

18.Wren’s grandmother helps her pull through the summer before her fourteenth birthday, including the return of her mentally ill father and her mother’s decision to move back to the city.

A:Sue Ellen Bridgers, Notes for Another Life

B:Brock Cole, The Goats

C:Paula Danziger, Remember Me to Harold Square

D:Bette Greene, Summer of my German Soldier

E:William Elliot Haselgrove, Ripples

G:Will Hobbs, Downriver

H:Robert Lipsyte, One Fat Summer

I:Katie Lecher Lyle, I Will Go Barefoot All Summer for You

J:Chris Lynch, Slot Machine

K:Norma Fox Mazer, Bright Days, Stupid Nights

L:Jean Davies Okimoto, Who Did It, Jenny Lake?

M:Gary Paulsen, The Cookcamp

N:Jerry Spinelli, Night of the Whale

O:Todd Strasser, A Very Touchy Subject

P:Jean Thesman, The Rain Catchers

Q:Joyce Carol Thomas, The Golden Pasture

R:Julian Thompson, The Grounding of Group Six

S:Cynthia Voigt, Building Blocks


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