ALAN v25n1 - THE BOOK CONNECTION - Clip and Files Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Clip and Files Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Gary M. Salvner and Virginia R. Monseau, editors

Sebanc, Mark
Flight to Hollow Mountain
Reviewed by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
Assistant Professor of Literacy
University of Maine
Orono, Maine

Levine, Gail Carson
Ella Enchanted
Reviewed by Janis Harmon
University of Texas at San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas

McKinley, Robin
Rose Daughter
Reviewed by Laura M. Zaidman
Professor of English
University of South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina

Strickland, Brad
The Hand of the Necromancer
Reviewed by James E. Davis
Professor of English
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

Flight to Hollow Mountain by Mark Sebanc Fantasy/Allegory
W.B. Eerdmans, 1996. 412 pp. $18.95 ISBN: 0-8028-3794-8
This exciting story is the first in the proposed trilogy of the Talamadh, the ancient and magical harp that helps keep the harmony of Circadian Middle Earth intact. But this harmony is gravely threatened by the invasion of Ferabek, the so-called Boar, into the highland shire of Lammermorn. When the high bard Willum, the Hordanu, is murdered and the Talamadh stolen by Ferabek's evil forces, it falls on Kalaquinn and his friend Gally to find the Talamadh, relight the Sacred Fire, and fight back the forces of unspeakable darkness. Though the action is initially slow as Sebanc sets up the internal mythology of his mystic world, it quickly picks up with exciting chases, battles, and poignant scenes of personal import. Fantasy afficionados will find this author a potential successor to Tolkien. I can't wait for the next book in the trilogy.
The ALAN Review Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
Fall 1997 University of Maine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine Fantasy
HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. 232 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-06-027510-3
Levine adds new dimensions to the fairy tale of Cinderella in this humorous story of Ella, the fifteen-year- old daughter of a traveling merchant, cursed from birth by the whimsical fairy Lucinda, who bestows upon her the gift of obedience. This gift becomes a burden to Ella, who must obey the slightest commands from everyone. She is saddled with much unwilling obedience as she attends a finishing school with her future stepsisters, encounters friendly gnomes, and tests her wits against despicable ogres. Her budding romance with Prince Charmont also unfolds as she seeks to find Lucinda to reverse the curse.

Although Ella becomes a scullery maid for her hateful stepfamily, she still wins the heart of the prince. Now she must wrestle with the dilemma of how her curse would adversely affect the prince if she married him. As Ella comes to terms with her predicament, she undergoes her rite of passage in order to "live happily ever after." In a delightful and enchanting way, Levine has created a new lived-through experience with a well- known fairy tale that is engaging and entertaining.
The ALAN Review Janis Harmon
Fall 1997 University of Texas at San Antonio

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley Fantasy
Greenwillow, 1997. 320 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-688-15439-5
Two decades after her successful first book, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, McKinley revisits her favorite fairytale and brings to mind The Secret Garden with the theme of love's regenerative power. The story's main thread looks quite familiar: Beauty, having gone to the Beast's enchanted palace because her father stole the Beast's rose for her, eventually falls in love and consents to marry her Beast. However, the surprise ending and various differences create a more intricately embroidered tapestry, woven with brighter colors and richer textures than the familiar tale. Sisters Lionheart and Jeweltongue (named Grace and Hope in Beauty) prove to be as strong and independent as Beauty. Fascinating dream imagery, rose garden symbolism, magical curses, and supernatural creatures also make an imaginative re-creation. Engaging and well-written, Rose Daughter resonates with an important message: women have choices and should no longer emulate passive damsels in distress.
The ALAN Review Laura M. Zaidman
Fall 1997 University of South Carolina, Sumter

The Hand of the Necromancer by Brad Strickland Magic
Dial Books, 1996. 168 pp. $14.89 ISBN: 0-8037-1830-6
Thirteen-year-old John Dixon secures a summer job with the Gudge Museum because his friend Professor Childermass has lent the museum a collection of artifacts that belonged to Esdrias Blackleach, an evil wizard connected with early Massachusetts witchcraft. A strange character named Mattheus Mergal appears and shows extreme interest in these objects, especially the wooden hand which may allow its possessor magic powers. John has many narrow escapes in this adventure, but with the help of the professor and his new friend Sarah, comes through them all. Sarah also teaches him to be better at baseball.

Young readers of John Bellairs will appreciate this one of the several books that Brad Strickland has completed after Bellairs' death. Some may object that the book relies heavily on coincidence and that the subject is witchcraft, but the title clearly indicates what the book is about.
The ALAN Review James E. Davis
Fall 1997 Ohio University

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction, Short Stories, and Poetry

Lisle, Janet Taylor
Angela's Aliens
Reviewed by Ruth K. J. Cline
Professor Emerita
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado

Gardner, Jostein
The Solitaire Mystery
Reviewed by Jeanne M. Gerlach
Dean, College of Education
University of Texas
Arlington, Texas

Glenn, Mel
The Taking of Room 114
Reviewed by Mike Angelotti
Professor of English Education
The University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma

Stearns, Michael, ed.
A Nightmare's Dozen
Reviewed by Chris Crowe
Associate Professor of English
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Angela's Aliens by Janet Taylor Lisle Friendship/Extraterrestrial Beings
Orchard Books, 1996. 120 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-531-09541-X
Although Georgina, Poco, and Walter have been anticipating Angela's return to their town and school after a year's absence, she is almost oblivious to them. She looks and acts older than her eleven years. The town has a Skywatcher's group, which is concerned about sightings of flying objects at Wickham Dam. Our young protagonists sneak out to the dam one night and see Angela there before she disappears. When the entire community searches for her, Georgina finds her; and Angela says she was taken by aliens and sent down on a beam of light from the sky. She describes the encounter and the aliens, who had no ears. Symbolically, Angela's parents never heard her when she tried to get their attention. They are separated and busy with their own careers, but they finally realize that Angela needs them.

The last book in the "Investigators of the Unknown" series, this story will hold the most appeal for younger readers who are struggling to understand the meaning of friendship and changing relationships.
The ALAN Review Ruth K. J. Cline
Fall 1997 University of Colorado

The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gardner Mystery
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1996. 309 pp. $22.00 ISBN: 0-374-26651-4
This book is structured as a deck of cards, with each chapter representing one card in the deck. It combines reality, fantasy, and family history to help young Hans Thomas discover the meaning of life. Readers travel from Norway to Greece with Hans and his father as they search for Hans' mother, who left them years earlier. Reading the memoirs of a shipwrecked sailor compels Hans to learn about the distant past in an effort to understand his mother's disappearance.

The Solitaire Mystery is a compelling and exciting read that may encourage young readers to think more about the meaning of their own lives.
The ALAN Review Jeanne M. Gerlach
Fall 1997 University of Texas, Arlington

The Taking of Room 114 by Mel Glenn Poetry
Lodestar, 1997. 182 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 0-525-67548-5
The subtitle, "A Hostage Drama in Poems," nicely summarizes the clever scheme of this book. Mr. Weidemeyer, a revered Tower High School history teacher, snaps and takes hostage at gunpoint his senior history class. The reader is taken into and through the story via a set of revealing poems by Weidemeyer, his students, and other principal characters. Mel Glenn fans will not be disappointed by his ninth book as he once again explores with great delicacy and truth the psyches of people and institutions that compose the greater school community. Many themes run through the book, not the least of which is the proposition that within each of us is a complex of stories often hidden from others by the stereotypes attached to the roles that we play, or seem to play. We are more than students and teachers, children and parents, school administrators and police officers. And so it is that the unvoiced inner lives of the characters drive the surface narrative to its conclusion. The book is an engaging, easy read, rich with points of discussion and potential writing prompts.
The ALAN Review Mike Angelotti
Fall 1997 The University of Oklahoma

A Nightmare's Dozen, Michael Stearns, ed. Short Stories/Horror
Harcourt Brace, 1996. 239 pp. $17.00 ISBN: 0-15-201247-8 This book sports an appropriately scary full-color cover (much scarier than the stories themselves) and presents twelve short horror tales that range from "The Twilight Zone" kind of story to the "Tales from the Crypt" variety. Most are well written with just enough eeriness to set young readers on the edge of their seats. Nearly all the stories have a contemporary setting with protagonists ranging from twelve to fifteen. My personal favorites were "Alita in the Air," "The Japanese Mirror," "Up the Airy Mountain," and "Bolundeers." YA specialists will recognize at least two of the contributors - Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville - among the dozen authors. All the stories in this collection are free from gore, profanity, and excessive violence and are sure to please middle grade horror fans.
The ALAN Review Chris Crowe
Fall 1997 Brigham Young University

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction and Nonfiction

Johnston, Andrea
Girls Speak Out: Finding Your True Self
Reviewed by Joyce A. Litton
Library Associate
Ohio University Library
Athens, Ohio

Denenberg, Barry
An American Hero: The True Story of Charles A. Lindbergh
Reviewed by John Jacob
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

Gold, Alison Leslie
No Time for Good-bye: Memories of Anne Frank
Reviewed by Edna Earl Edwards
Professor Emerita of Education and English
State University of West Georgia
Carrollton, Georgia

Hill, David
Take It Easy
Reviewed by Jim Brewbaker
Professor of English Education
Columbus State University
Columbus, Georgia

Girls Speak Out: Finding Your True Self by Andrea Johnston Self-development
Scholastic Press, 1997. 240 pp. $17.95 ISBN: 0-590-89795-0
Girls Speak Out takes its name from a nationwide effort to improve self-esteem for young adolescent girls. The book attempts to replicate what Johnston and her colleagues do in Girls Speak Out programs across the country. Girls learn about ancient matriarchal societies where goddesses were worshipped, read about early feminists such as Sojourner Truth and from contemporary ones like Alice Walker, are encouraged to be interested in science, and are discouraged from pretending to be dumb to attract boys. The literary excerpts and the focus are multicultural; the book is well written and provocative. Occasionally its attempts at political correctness are silly - e.g., references to "goddess mothers" and "goddess daughters." Since most readers come from the Judeo-Christian tradition, the author might profitably have talked about God having feminine and masculine strains.
The ALAN Review Joyce A. Litton
Fall 1997 Ohio University Library

An American Hero: The True Story of Charles A. Lindbergh Heroism/Aviation/WWII
by Barry Denenberg
Scholastic, 1996. 250 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-590-46923-1
Aviation buffs and other readers will learn much from this excellent book about the shy and unassuming but ambitious Charles A. Lindbergh, the first person to fly from the United States to Paris without stopping. They will learn that Lindbergh was a barnstorming motorcycle rider before he flew, that he was a poor student until his future as a pilot depended upon good academic performance, and that he was the only pilot to plan the flight alone. Lindbergh's baby was kidnapped and murdered, but Denenberg presents much evidence that Bruno Hauptmann, who was convicted and executed for the crime, probably did commit it.

Of greatest importance, the author sketches the many facets of Lindbergh, from childhood through World War II - a war which Lindbergh bitterly opposed until Pearl Harbor. He shows us the Lindbergh who was a spokesperson for America First, an isolationist group, and the Lindbergh who, as an anti-Semite, admired Adolf Hitler and accepted Germany's highest military medal. Denenberg's book is highly recommended for all audiences.
The ALAN Review John Jacob
Fall 1997 Northwestern University

No Time for Good-bye: Memories of Anne Frank by Alison Leslie Gold Holocaust
Scholastic Press, 1997. 16 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-590-90722-0
In writing of Hannah Elizabeth Pick-Goslar's memories after they met in 1993, Gold adds to the depiction of Anne Frank and Hitler's reign. Devoted primarily to Hannah's own story, the book interweaves her memories of Anne, her greatly-admired spunky childhood friend. Her account supports the close friendship of the two friends from age four and the terror of the times depicted in Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Hannah recounts her life in Amsterdam through her experience with prison camp, hospitalization, and release. Thinking as others had, that Anne and her family had escaped to Switzerland, Hannah is surprised to encounter Anne again in an adjoining prison camp.

This book and Anne Frank Remembered, an account of the office worker who aided the Franks in hiding, which Gold co-authored with Miep Gies, provide good supplementary material for the diary.
The ALAN Review Edna Earl Edwards
Fall 1997 State University of West Georgia

Take It Easy by David Hill Outdoor Adventure
Dutton, 1995. 163 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-525-45763-1
Take It Easy is a predictable survival story for upper-elementary or middle schoolers - especially if they haven't discovered Will Hobbs or Gary Paulsen. Rob Kennedy and five chums (three boys and three girls) are on a backpacking adventure in the mountains of New Zealand. Inexplicably, Harvey, their guide, dies in his sleep on the second day out. What to do? Rob, the more experienced hiker, wants to heed common sense and adult advice and stay put, waiting for rescuers. Before long, though, hotter heads prevail; and, after a series of misadventures, the teens are lost, hungry, injured, and/or nearly drowned. Rob and Shawn stumble into a clearing; and, cavalry-fashion, the rescue helicopters arrive just in the nick of time.

Take It Easy is readable enough, but it lacks qualities one should expect in a superior story of this type: believable nature or wood lore, round characters, and - most important - adolescents who survive by their own wits and learn something in the process. David Hill's narrative falls short on all three counts. Alongside Paulsen's Hatchet or The Haymeadow, Hobbs' Downriver, or Mazer's The Island Keeper, it is lightweight stuff indeed.
The ALAN Review Jim Brewbaker
Fall 1997 Columbus State University, Georgia

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Paulsen, Gary
Sarny, A Life Remembered
Reviewed by Connie S. Zitlow
Associate Professor of Education
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, Ohio

Wisler, G. Clifton
The Drummer Boy of Vicksburg
Reviewed by Marjorie M. Kaiser
Professor of Secondary Education
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky

Pausewang, Gudrun
The Final Journey
Reviewed by Susanne L. Johnston
Senior Lecturer in English
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, Wisconsin

Rinaldi, Ann
The Blue Door
Reviewed by Hannah Pickworth
Friends School of Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland

Sarny, A Life Remembered by Gary Paulsen Historical Fiction/Slavery
Delacorte Press, 1997. 180 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-385-32195-3
In this sequel to Nightjohn, Paulsen continues the story of Sarny, the slave girl Nightjohn taught to read. It's 1930 when Sarny, age 94 and "getting on," finishes telling her story by "writing it all down," as urged by her grandson. She remembers how the slaves learned to read, even though the men with whips and dogs tried to stop them. In the beautiful rhythm of Paulsen's poetic prose, Sarny tells about the master's cruelty, the death of her first husband, and the selling of her two children. Suddenly a free woman in 1861, Sarny flees the plantation in a desperate search for little Tyler and Delie. On the way to New Orleans, she meets the mysterious and remarkable Miss Laura, who helps her find her children and a home. When Sarny, supported by her new husband and Miss Laura, establishes a school because "near everybody wanted to learn to read," the night riders come and Sarny once again lives with sadness.
Recommended for middle and high school readers, this book is as much about Sarny's intellect and courage as it is about slavery and the aftermath of the Civil War.
The ALAN Review Connie S. Zitlow
Fall 1997 Ohio Wesleyan University

The Drummer Boy of Vicksburg by G. Clifton Wisler Historical Fiction/Civil War
Lodestar Books, 1997. 133 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-67537-X
Many young readers would think of music in the military context as background-musicians as irrelevant to the real aims of warfare, never as heroes or warriors themselves. In this novel, Orion Howe, age thirteen, with a history of musicianship and soldiering in his family, yearns to be on the scene of the action of the Civil War as part of the 55th Illinois Infantry Regiment. Once there, he learns first-hand that joining up as a drummer boy does not preclude one's becoming actively involved in the realities of battle, and he proves himself as a brave and sensitive boy. Through his excellent research, his choice of first-person point of view, his creation of riveting dialogue, and his straightforward, unsentimental prose, Wisler brings to life the reality of war and its impact on the idealism of the young.
The ALAN Review Marjorie M. Kaiser
Fall 1997 University of Louisville

The Final Journey by Gudrun Pausewang Historical Fiction/Holocaust
Viking, 1992. 155 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-670-86456-0
All that eleven-year-old Alice had known was happiness with her parents and grandparents. Then, two years ago, they moved into the basement of their house, and Alice has not been outside since. Now her parents have disappeared, and Alice and her grandparents are roused in the middle of the night and herded to the rail station. Separated from her grandmother, Alice and her grandfather are crammed into a rail car headed for an unknown destination. As the trip progresses, Alice begins to understand what it means to be a Jew in Hitler's Germany.

Pausewang is both touching and brutally honest about the horrors that Jews underwent during Hitler's reign. Readers learn of the unfounded hatred directed toward the Jews, their inhumane treatment, and the maturity that comes quickly with tragedy. However, Pausewang also shows that love and an optimistic spirit can prevail in spite of horrendous circumstances.
The ALAN Review Susanne L. Johnston
Fall 1997 University of Wisconsin-Stout

The Blue Door by Ann Rinaldi Historical Fiction/Family
Harcourt Brace, 1996. 269 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-590-46051-X
Amanda Videau feels powerless as she is sent from her South Carolina plantation to Lowell, Massachusetts. Her mission is to meet her great grandfather, experience independence, secure a better price for her father's cotton, heal family betrayals, and reconnect a piece of the family quilt symbolizing the division in the Chelmford clan. After witnessing a crime during her trip, Amanda must disguise herself and ends up a textile worker in the horrible conditions of her own great grandfather's mills. As she finds her inner strength and external voice, she develops a deeper understanding of the clash between the different cultures she experiences.

Narrated in the first person, this book is full of accurate historical descriptions and well-developed characters. The symbolism takes readers beyond the fast-paced plot, and we meet characters who represent all the grey areas of human pain and joy. This is a believable story with a satisfying ending.
The ALAN Review Hannah Pickworth
Fall 1997 Friends School of Baltimore

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Koertge, Ron
Reviewed by Judy Beckman
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Honeycutt, Natalie
Twilight in Grace Falls
Reviewed by Wendy H. Bell
English Teacher
Enka High School
Asheville, North Carolina

Rochman, Hazel, and Darlene Z. McCampbell, eds.
Leaving Home
Reviewed by Gary D. Schmidt
Professor of English
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Lynch, Chris
The He-Man Women Haters Club
#1 Johnny Chesthair
#2 Babes in the Woods
#3 Scratch and the Sniffs
Reviewed by Chris Crowe
Associate Professor of English
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Confess-o-rama by Ron Koertge Grieving Death/Mother and Son Relationships
Orchard Books. 1996. 165pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-531-09515-0
Tony finds the "Confess-o-rama" phone number inviting. Admitting his grief and "Éspilling his gutsÉ ." to a sympathetic machine might be helpful. Since the death of his father and four stepfathers, his own losses are ignored as his mother becomes increasingly emotionally dependent on him. Thus burdened and constantly moving, Tony enters West Paradise High as only one of his brief-stay schools. Insulating himself against another move, he is determined to be the generic student with no friends. Then he meets zany Jordan, a cause- touting artist hiding her pain behind a brash exterior. They become unlikely friends until Tony discovers who listens to the "Confess-o-rama" tapes.

Koertge's well-placed humor softens the insensitivity and betrayal these genuine and unique characters face. Readers in grades 9 Ð 12 will laugh out loud at the eccentric characters and nod knowingly at their struggles for respect in their suspended-in-time world of adolescence.
The ALAN Review Judy Beckman
Fall 1997 University of Northern Iowa

Twilight in Grace Falls by Natalie Honeycutt Dealing with Death/Griefv Orchard Books, 1997. 181 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-531-33007-9
Eleven-year-old Dasie Jenson learns about loss in this interesting and readable novel. When Consolated Timber Products, Inc., shuts down, not only her family but the entire town of Grace Falls, Oregon, is affected. Her parents must find work elsewhere; best friends move away; her brother Sam joins the Navy; and her cousin Warren commits suicide rather than face a future in which he feels he has no place.
As they share the Jensons' problems, readers will learn a great deal about the timber industry and a vanishing lifestyle. However, it is the people in the book that make this novel a valuable addition to the YA genre. Honeycutt's concern for her characters as they cope with the loss of a lifestyle will make the reader think about the story even after it is over.
This book's high interest and readability should appeal to mature middle school and junior high students alike.
The ALAN Review Wendy H. Bell
Fall 1997 Enka High School, North Carolina

Leaving Home edited by Hazel Rochman and Maturation and Growth
Darlene Z. McCampbell
HarperCollins, 1997. 231 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-06-024873-4
As they have in two other anthologies, Rochman and McCampbell comine here to edit stories and poems around a single, common YA theme: leaving a safe, secure home to achieve maturation. The editors bring together pieces that show many variations on that single theme, with all of the stories working individually to show the difficulties of establishing one's own identity, but also resonating with each other to show the many sides of leavetaking in different cultures. The impressive list of authors and stories includes Amy Tan's tale of a young girl's hurt and confusion as she breaks away from her family's controlling influence, Norma Fox Mazer's story of a young Jewish girl leaving Poland behind to forge a new and unexpected life in America, Tim Wynne-Jones' heartening tale of a young boy in the midst of divorce, and the concluding piece, Toni Morrison's "Recitatif," dealing with a reevaluation of the meaning of a past incident. The editors have varied the tones, the music, the voices, and the meanings of the pieces, which provide both humorous and heartbreaking stories of the meaning of adolescence.
The ALAN Review Gary D. Schmidt
Fall 1997 Calvin College

The He-Man Women Haters Club by Chris Lynch Series books/Humor
#1 Johnny Chesthair, 132 pp. ISBN: 0-06-027414-X
#2 Babes in the Woods , 113 pp. ISBN: 0-06-027415-8
#3 Scratch and the Sniffs , 117 pp. ISBN: 0-06-027416-6
HarperCollins, 1997. $13.89-$14.89
This series follows the exploits of "The He-Man Women Haters Club" and its charter members: eighth grader Steven, the club founder who lives in fear of Monica, the girl who has liked him since the third grade; Jerome, the nerdy swim team manager who wants to become a "man" like Steven; Wolfgang, the feisty delinquent in a wheelchair; and Ling-Ling, the gentle giant crybaby. In book #1, narrated by Steven, the foursome form their club, elect Steven as president, and search for ways to prove their machismo. In book #2, narrated by Jerome, who has replaced Steven as president, the He-Men travel into the wilderness under the guidance of Steven's father and uncle to test their manhood. In book #3, narrated by Wolfgang, who has replaced Jerome as president, the He-Men form a punk-jug rock band in search of fame and fortune. In form and style, this series is quite different from Lynch's early works, yet each of these books reflects Lynch's ability to create interesting characters and to give them engaging voices. Lynch's comic wit appeals to middle-grade boys, especially reluctant readers.
The ALAN Review Chris Crowe
Fall 1997 Brigham Young University

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Barnes, Joyce Annette
Promise Me the Moon
Reviewed by Jeanne M. McGlinn
Assistant Professor of Education
University of North Carolina-Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina

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

Vanasse, Deb
A Distant Enemy
Reviewed by Jeffrey S. Kaplan
Coordinator, College of Education
University of Central Florida-Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach, Florida

Woodson, Jacqueline
The House You Pass on the Way
Reviewed by Joan F. Kaywell
Associate Professor of English Education
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

Promise Me the Moon by Joyce Annette Barnes Growing Up/African American
Dial Books, 1997. 171 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-8037-1798-9
Inspired by the moon landing and Apollo missions, Annie Armstrong (13) and her boyfriend Claude (15) decide to become NASA pilots and astronauts who will one day fly to the moon. But now Claude, who is in high school, makes new plans to become a businessman, "a multimillionaire." Annie feels their close relationship slipping away, along with her certainty about her goals. She is tired of people's disbelieving or amused reactions. She doesn't want to be identified with the "eggheads," but she also doesn't want to waste time on make-overs and boy-watching. That's why the opportunities Annie has this year make a big difference. First she decides to attend an accelerated science class that meets before school, and she is encouraged to apply to attend a prestigious high school. Then she visits family in New York, which gives her new experiences and helps her to see herself as an African American with a proud heritage. Annie realizes that she can be anything she desires. African American children, especially, will see their lives mirrored in Annie's family, community, and church life, but Annie's experience rings true for all children who have felt the urge to excel and tried to understand how they could make their dreams reality.
The ALAN Review Jeanne M. McGlinn
Fall 1997 University of North Carolina-Asheville

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman Neighborhoods
HarperCollins, 1997. 69 pp. $13.95 ISBN 0-06-027471-9
A vacant lot in an inner city neighborhood is transformed into a garden which grows a sense of community among the thirteen residents who labor there to create a place of beauty and renewal. Kim makes the first move as she plants beans in honor of her late father, a Vietnamese farmer. A neighbor, suspicious at first, watches Kim doggedly tend the withering crop. Other neighbors soon join in, each cultivating a section of the lot. Suddenly, a place of beauty stands amidst the grime of the city, a beacon of hope for residents who believed hope to be vanished from their lives.

As he proved so ably in Bull Run, winner of the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction, Fleischman is adept at writing from many perspectives. The book's format lends itself perfectly to reader's theater and is also a good choice for reading aloud traditionally.
The ALAN Review Teri S. Lesesne
Fall 1997 Sam Houston State University

A Distant Enemy by Deb Vanasse Cultural Identity/Coming of Age
Lodestar Books, 1997. 179 pp. $16.99 ISBN: 0-525-67549-3
Here's something new. This is a smart coming-of-age novel about a fourteen-year-old young boy who is part Yup'ik Eskimo and part white. Joseph is angry - angry at his white father for abandoning his family; angry at the many changes brought to his Yup'ik Eskimo village by the white man; and angry at his new kass'ag (white) teacher. To Joseph, any kass'ag is his enemy.

Joseph's anger boils. He slashes the tires of the fish and game troopers' airplane to protest their restrictions to his traditional ways, and he lies to protect himself. Living in a remote southwestern Alaskan village, however, makes keeping secrets impossible. Soon, his frustration mounts, leading to a brush with death and a coming to terms with himself and his changing world.

In clear, straightforward prose, Deb Vanasse has written a tale of loving and loss, of constancy and change, and of survival and redemption. This novel is particularly recommended for high schoolers.
The ALAN Review Jeffrey S. Kaplan
Fall 1997 University of Central Florida

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson Being Different
Delacorte Press, 1997. 99 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-32189-9
As the title suggests, every house - every family - has its own story. Evangeline "Stagerlee" Canan's grandparents were killed fighting for black rights, but the little town of Sweet Gum only knows them as heroes rather than the people they were. Ironically, because Stagerlee's father Elijah married a white woman, his two sisters stopped speaking to him for twenty years. Stagerlee's mother explains that it isn't the family they reject but the idea of them that the sisters can't handle. A family connection is made when Elijah receives a letter from Ida Mae informing him of her sister's death. Ida Mae thinks it's time to reconnect and asks him to take her adopted daughter, Tyler, for the summer. The family agrees, and Stagerlee is enamored of her cousin, a girl who calls herself "Trout" because of the way the fish fights if caught. Trout tells Stagerlee that the real reason she's there is because she needs to be "straightened out." The two fifteen-year-olds have something in common, and Stagerlee's glad to know that she's not the only one in the world to have kissed another girl.

This little book raises big questions, the biggest of which - Why can't I just be me? - has plagued society since the beginning of time. It's a question worth discussing; unfortunately, the book doesn't develop answers with any kind of depth.
The ALAN Review Joan F. Kaywell
Fall 1997 University of South Florida

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover and Paperback Fiction

Cormier, Robert
Reviewed by Brian Barnes
Youngstown State University
Youngstown, Ohio

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

Kerr, M.E.
"Hello," I Lied
Reviewed by Kay Parks Bushman
Chair, English Department
Ottawa High School
Ottawa, Kansas

Cargill, Linda
Hang Loose
Reviewed by Wendy H. Bell
English Teacher
Enka High School
Asheville, North Carolina

Tenderness by Robert Cormier Contemporary Fiction
Delacorte Press, 1997. 240 pp. $16.95 ISBN: 0-385-32286-0
Another psychopathic killer? Yes, what else should we expect from the craftful mind of Robert Cormier? In Tenderness, readers can expect a novel that numbs, terrifies, and angers - all at once. In this novel, Eric Poole is the enemy, and his malicious behavior reflects previous Cormier antagonists such as Archie Costello and Brother Leon. But don't let this characterization fool you! Cormier makes sure that this enemy exhibits a variety of likable features.

The twist in the novel occurs when Lori Cranston, a fifteen-year-old girl, becomes fixated on Eric Poole and decides that she must meet him. Her determination is inspiring to readers, but her tenacity eventually leads her into a troublesome predicament. Her craving for tenderness is the only hope she has left, and her future depends on the erratic behavior of Eric Poole.

Readers of Robert Cormier can expect another fantastic novel that explores the complexity of the human psyche. Cormier, once again, proves that the ending to a novel can always be a surprise.
The ALAN Review Brian Barnes
Fall 1997 Youngstown State University

Wannabe by Shelley Stoehr Drug Abuse
Delacorte Press, 1997. 215 pp. $15.95. ISBN 0-385-32223-2
Catherine and her friend Erica are high school seniors working at night clubs to support themselves and their drug habits. Erica gets the cocaine since Catherine resists buying from a dealer herself. After all, she is an honor student planning to attend college. Despite passing out while taking the SAT, she refuses to consider herself part of the drug scene. Neither Catherine nor Erica comes from a stable home. Erica's father is abusive and Catherine's is alcoholic. Her overworked mother is the lone wise adult voice trying to save her daughter and son from the seedy life they have chosen.

This book is filled with tough, honest language that to some readers may be shocking. Although the ending is somewhat simplistic, the book's power lies in its graphic rendering of the physical and emotional effects of drugs and the ease with which users can slip into a scary and miserable existence.
The ALAN Review Anne Sherrill
Fall 1997 East Tennessee State University

"Hello, I Lied" by M. E. Kerr Homosexuality/Bisexuality
HarperCollins, 1997. 171 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-06-027529-4
In a groundbreaking novel, M. E. Kerr once again tackles the issue of homosexuality-but this time from the point of view of a male. Spending the summer in the Hamptons, seventeen-year-old Lang Penner and his mother have moved into the caretakers' cottage owned by rock star Ben Nevada. Although Lang's mother has resigned herself to the fact that her son is gay, Lang struggles with how to break this fact to his long-time friends who have come to visit. Then the struggle increases when Nevada's teenage houseguest Huguette arrives, and Lang becomes surprisingly infatuated with her. How will he explain these feelings to his friend Alex?

Portraying difficult issues, realistic dialogue, and a rock music world, this book should become widely read and profoundly discussed by mature teens.
The ALAN Review Kay Parks Bushman
Fall 1997 Ottawa High School, Kansas

Hang Loose by Linda Cargill Horror
Harper Paperbacks, 1996. 228Pp. $4.50 ISBN: 0-06-106374-6
When seventeen-year-old Mattie Sullivan gets tangled in a clothesline that has been burnt through, she dismisses the incident as a prank. When more ropes appear in equally innocent places but with sinister and threatening messages, Mattie gets scared. The corpse hanging in the lighthouse along with an effigy representing Mattie don't help her nerves either. Who is responsible: Brad, the boyfriend who has been acting strange, or Big Sue, the creepy neighbor who warns her to stay away from him? Finding out who would want Mattie dead forms the basis for this uneven novel.

Although there are some genuinely scary moments, these are overpowered by unrealistic dialogue, flat characters, and implausible situations. Typical of the teen horror genre that extends the problem-solving- through-violence message promoted by the film and TV industries, Hang Loose has little redeeming literary value except occasional entertainment.
The ALAN Review Wendy H. Bell
Fall 1997 Enka High School, North Carolina

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Holmes, Barbara Ware
Letters to Julia
Reviewed by Megan Lynn Isaac
Assistant Professor of English
Youngstown State University
Youngstown, Ohio

Sachs, Marilyn
Another Day
Reviewed by June Harris
Assistant Professor of English
University of Arizona-Sierra Vista
Sierra Vista, Arizona

Stemp, Jane
Reviewed by Hollis Lowery-Moore
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas

Martinez, Victor
Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida
Reviewed by Rob Linné
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas

Letters to Julia by Barbara Ware Holmes Friendship/Writing
HarperCollins, 1997. 234 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-06-027341-0
With some prodding from her enthusiastic English teacher, fifteen-year-old Liz sends a piece of her creative writing off to a New York City publisher, Ms. Julia Steward Jones. Much to Liz's delight, Julia responds - not with promises of publication, but with insightful comments and genuine encouragement. Holmes follows this epistolary friendship for a period of two years and intersperses the letters exchanged between Liz and Julia with chapters of Liz's semi-autobiographical novel and selections from her much more private journal. The novel reveals the dangers of hero worship, the nature of depression, and the joy of self- discovery. Through her writing, Liz also explores her conflicted relationship with her divorced parents, especially her father. The novel is a compelling tale about friendship between two women of different generations and a wonderful exploration of the personal and artistic growth of a young writer.
The ALAN Review Megan Lynn Isaac
Fall 1997 Youngstown State University

Another Day by Marilyn Sachs Family Problems
Dutton Children's Books, 1997. 180 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-45787-9
Olivia Diamond is fourteen years old; and, since her mother walked out on the family, everything in her life seems to have gone wrong. Her beloved grandfather has died, and her grandmother has withdrawn from the world. Her father has retreated into his computers. Olivia is failing algebra, and her awful math teacher is making that fact obvious to all her classmates. Things are not all dismal, however. Ron Kramer, one of the cutest boys in her class, has offered to take her on as one of his clients in his math tutoring business.

Olivia's life undergoes many changes during her fourteenth year, and she and her family change in ways that none of them might have expected. This is a warm family story that offers no easy solutions to problems but suggests the power of love, growth, and adaptation to change.
The ALAN Review June Harris
Fall 1997 University of Arizona-Sierra Vista

Waterbound by Jane Stemp Future Worlds/Disabilities
Dial Books, 1996. 240 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-8037-1994-9
In Waterbound, author Stemp has created a grim future world in which disabled and different children are disposed of and forgotten by families and friends. Sympathetic workers have managed to save some of the castoffs who have survived in the underground world of tunnels and pipes that can only be reached through the city's water canals. Stemp's portraits of determined, intelligent, and courageous teens who search for a way to make society accept them are engaging, and the descriptions of the underground world are detailed enough for the reader to accept the possibility. The common young adult themes of insecurity, rebellion, jealousy, friendship, and love are all part of this story. The author's message - "the disabled and different have much to offer the world" - is heavy handed, and important issues in the story go unexplained or unresolved, but the uniqueness of the subject and an uplifting ending create an appealing novel for young adult readers.
The ALAN Review Hollis Lowery-Moore
Fall 1997 Sam Houston State University

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez Gangs/Class and Ethnicity
HarperCollins, 1996. 216 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-06-026704-6
Manny Hernandez endures a lot during the year that leads up to his initiation into a California gang. He learns about hard work out in the sweltering vegetable fields and experiences class stratification at a high school party where he is not welcomed. Manny helps his older sister through a life-threatening miscarriage but almost takes his younger brother's life when he accidentally fires his father's shotgun. The young protagonist narrates all of these events with a future writer's eye for detail and a unique take on human character.

Martinez's coming-of-age story reads like true adolescence - absurd and funny from a distance, yet painful when you're stuck in the middle of it all. I already lost one afternoon to this bitter-sweet book and now I've picked it up again. I think many reluctant readers would also have a hard time turning away once Manny started talking straight to them about what growing up is really all about. The ALAN Review Rob Linné
Fall 1997 University of Texas at Austin