ALAN v22n3 - THE BOOK CONNECTION - Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Fiction

Virginia R. Monseau and Gary M. Salvner, editors

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

Barrett, Elizabeth
Free Fall
Reviewed by June Harris
Assistant Professor of English
East Texas State University
Commerce, Texas

Carter, Alden E.
Reviewed by Hazel K. Davis
Athens, Ohio

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

Ironman by Chris Crutcher Relationships
Greenwillow Books, 1995. 181 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-688-13503-X RTE
In this really outstanding novel Crutcher revisits themes and stylistic devices that have served him well in the past. Bo Brewster, a superstar athlete, refuses to play on the school football team, prefers his individualistic triathalons, comes from a dysfunctional family, has a girlfriend with her own troubles, writes letters (to Larry King), and is described in the present tense-- all major echoes of Chinese Handcuffs. Several sympathetic teachers appear here, one of them a Stotan -- another echo. Thus, Ironman could profitably be used as part of a larger Crutcher unit. But it can and should be read on its own, too. It is compellingly done -- an engaging and important story, brilliantly written (Crutcher at his best, which is, of course, very good), with a memorable protagonist and a distinctive cast of minor characters, and with truly provocative ideas about school, family, and personal relationships. READ THIS ONE.
The ALAN Review Ted Hipple
Spring 1995 University of Tennessee

Dogwolf by Alden E. Carter Initiation
Scholastic, 1994. 272 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46741-7
Dogwolf is a well-crafted, compelling initiation story about Pete, a young Swedish/French/Chippewa boy, who, at fifteen, is trying to decide just who and what he is. Pete spends part of his time in a fire tower watching for new fires as upper Wisconsin is enduring a long drought and severe forest fires. When Pete releases a penned-up dogwolf, he sets into motion a series of events that culminate in the death of his best friend and a brush with death for himself as he hunts down and kills the dogwolf. This is a real page-turner with chapters so long I found it hard to find a place to pause even at 12:30a.m. Some readers may be offended by the numerous curse words or by the incidental sex scenes, but this is a book I know my students would enjoy, and I'm sure readers age 12 and up will too.
The ALAN Review Hazel K. Davis
Spring 1995 Athens, Ohio

Free Fall by Elizabeth Barrett Growing Up
HarperCollins, 1994. 249 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-06-024465-8
When seventeen-year-old Ginnie is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother, she thinks that her parents are both trying to get rid of her and attempting to separate her from her boyfriend, Denny. As a result, she starts to behave in almost dangerous ways: hanging out with girls who are one step away from trouble, getting picked up by dangerous young men. She doesn't have much interest in Kris, the boy who lives across the street from her grandmother. But as the summer goes on, she finds that things are not what they have seemed. Her parents are on the verge of divorce. Denny drops her for someone else. And Kris... well. Kris looks more and more interesting.After Ginnie spends a summer growing up and learning about herself and her family, she emerges from the experience a very different person.
This is an engaging book about the process of growing up, a book about a young woman's coming of age.
The ALAN Review June Harris
Spring 1995 East Texas State University

Out of Nowhere by Ouida Sebestyen Identity/Family
Orchard, 1994. 183 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-531-06839-0
Thoughtful readers will be forced to examine their definition of familyin Ouida Sebestyen's novel about the relationships among four misfit human beings and two dogs -- one of them recently abandoned -- who are thrust together through unusual circumstances. Thirteen-year-old Harley (named after the motorcycle), deserted by his irresponsible mother, is temporarily aided by 69-year-old May, who is running away from a failed marriage and a good look at herself. Living uninvited in May's old house are Bill, a feisty old junk collector, and a talkative, insightful young lady named Singer, who is helping the injured Bill. Their need for acceptance, love, and support drives the plot to an outcome that is not unexpected. However, the interaction among these vulnerable and engaging characters is beautifully written, providing readers with much to discuss.
The ALAN Review Donald R. Gallo
Spring 1995 Central Connecticut State University

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

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

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

Okimoto, Jean Davies
Talent Night
Reviewed by Darien Fisher-Duke
Brookland Middle School
Richmond, Virginia

Lynch, Chris
Gypsy Davey
Reviewed by Jeff Kaplan
Visiting Assistant Professor
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

Julie by Jean Craighead George Eskimos
HarperCollins, 1994. 226 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-060024582-4
After her adventure on the Arctic tundra, Julie joins the household of her father, Kapugen, who has married a white woman and adopted many of the white man's values. Eskimo villages are now corporations, and one new business is harvesting musk oxen. To protect them, Kapugen and others kill wolves, who will attack the oxen if there are no caribou. Julie must find the wolf pack that befriended her on the tundra and lead them to a food source other than the oxen.
Fans of the first book will relish the return of Julie to the wolf pack, this time to save their lives as they saved hers. The second book focuses on Julie and human relationships -- her respect and love for Kapugen and his wife and a romantic interest in a young Siberian. The book is rich in Eskimo words, customs, and village life. Can a sequel be as good as the original? You bet.
The ALAN Review Anne Sherrill
Spring 1995 East Tennessee State University

Talent Night by Jean Davies Okimoto Multicultural
Scholastic, 1995. 161 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-590-47809-5
Rodney Suyama has a lot on his mind. Will he find the courage to enter the school talent show? If he does, will people accept an Asian rapper? Rodney dreams of the beautiful Ivy and how he could comfort her if she would break up with her football player boyfriend. A visit from rich Uncle Hideki might mean a financial windfall -- if the Suyama family is traditional enough for him. Okimoto, author of Molly, By Any Other Name, again explores the confusion of growing up and the additional feelings that come with a minority heritage. Family members play an important role in Okimoto's books, as they struggle to come to terms with changing relationships. Molly herself makes a brief appearance in this book, and readers who enjoy reading about Molly are sure to like Rodney too. The plot doesn't contain many surprises, but humor and empathy will engage the reader.
The ALAN Review Darien Fisher-Duke
Spring 1995 Brookland Middle School, Richmond, Virginia

Nightfather by Carl Friedman Holocaust Survivors/Family
Translated from the Dutch by ISBN: 0-89255-193-3
Arnold and Erica Pomerans
Persea Books, translation copyright 1994. 133 pp. $18.50
Her father "has camp," but the young narrator does not know how or why he has it. Everything this loving family does leads to a concentration camp story told by Ephraim, the father. Because the horrifying details are so much a part of the children's lives, the narrator buries her toys so the SS won't find them, brother Max tries to freeze his feet, and Simon hides toothpaste used to prevent thirst. The children struggle to understand their father, wish he'd play soccer instead of talking about camp, and worry when he is in a tuberculosis sanitorium. By the end of this short novel, details about the death march completely replace accounts of family events. This book, written by the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, was first published in the Netherlands in 1991. With its deceptively simple and lyrical language showing the impact on the children of survivors, it is an important addition to Holocaust literature.
The ALAN Review Connie S. Zitlow
Spring 1995 Ohio Wesleyan University

Gypsy Davey by Chris Lynch Inner City/Family Problems
HarperCollins, 1994. 179 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 0-06-023586-1
Davey's mother really does love him (and so does his estranged father), but his mother is just "no good at it anymore." Life is just tough to handle, so Davey's mother does the next best thing -- she hands two-year-old Davey over to his seven-year-old sister Joanne and takes off whenever she can.
Where does Davey's mother go? Out. To work. To a bar. To find herself. All the time leaving Davey with his bewildered and fast-to-grow-up sister, Joanne.And guess what? When Joanne turns 17, she becomes a mother herself, passing her baby on to Davey to watch as she (guess what?) runs off whenever she can.
This is a tough story. Told in both Davey's and the narrator's voice, we learn of the unforgiving life of a child who is tossed around like loose baggage. A gritty, mature read for teenagers, who will see reality in a harsh and cruel light.
The ALAN Review Jeff Kaplan
Spring 1995 University of Central Florida

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

Llorente, Pilar Molina
The Apprentice
Reviewed by John Noell Moore
English Instructor
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia

Hicyilmaz, Gaye
The Frozen Waterfall
Reviewed by Connie J. Russell
K-12 Reading Language Arts Coordinator
Eau Claire School District
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Gantos, Jack
Heads or Tails: Stories from the Sixth Grade
Reviewed by Wendy H. Bell
English Teacher
Enka High School
Asheville, North Carolina

Ripslinger, Jon
Reviewed by Kay Parks Bushman
English Teacher
Ottawa High School
Ottawa, Kansas

The Apprentice by Pilar Molina Llorente Career Choice/Freedom
Illustrated by Juan Ramon Alonso ISBN: 0-374-30389-4
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993. 101 pp. $13.00
The son of a successful tailor in Renaissance Florence, thirteen-year-old Arduino Neri dreams of becoming a painter and is apprenticed to Maestro Cosimodi Forli. In the company of three other apprentices and the housekeeper Melania, Arduino, though talented, is treated as a servant. He discovers that the tyrannical Maestro has imprisoned the artist Donato in the attic because he fears the youth's talent. Arduino secretly befriends Donato, learns about painting from him, and helps secure his release. A jealous apprentice's double cross almost ruins Arduino's artistic dreams, but all is resolved when a rich patron comes to the rescue.
Though the novel briefly dramatizes the lack of choice by women in this society, its failure to develop this idea is a major disappointment, and the unfortunate fairy-tale ending resolves the real issues of the novel all too blithely. Nonetheless, it is recommended for middle-school readers for its easy reading, historical interest, and intrigue.
The ALAN Review John Noell Moore
Spring 1995 Virginia Tech

Heads or Tails: Stories From the Sixth Grade by Jack GantosDiary/Humor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 151 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374-32909-5
The entries in Jack's diary reflect his "heads-you-win, tails-you-lose" life.If his teacher, Mrs. Marshall, isn't giving him a hard time at school (his fifth school in six years), his older sister, Betsy, and bratty younger brother, Pete, nearly do him in. Jack's escapades during his sixth-grade year are funny and well-written. His original characters are memorable because they are real. There is also a certain poignancy when the family's hoped-for move to another city and higher income does not materialize, but the author maintains the overall brisk pace and wry tone that make this book delightful reading. Middle schoolers, in particular, will enjoy Heads or Tails:Stories From the Sixth Grade.
The ALAN Review Wendy H. Bell
Spring 1995 Enka High School

The Frozen Waterfall by Gaye Hicyilmaz Family/Cultural Conflict
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993. 307 pp. $16.00 ISBN: 0-374-32482-4
Twelve-year-old Selda, along with her mother and sisters, is finally joining her father and brothers in Switzerland, where they have found better jobs. But Selda soon finds out what it is like to be a foreigner who can't communicate in a country very unlike her native Turkey. Unable to make friends at first, she finally forms an uneasy bond with a rich Swiss girl and an illegal-immigrant boy. Through these friendships and the illegal immigrant's plight, she begins to accept the challenge of being a foreigner in Switzerland.
Hicyilmaz depicts a clash of two cultures while taking the reader through an action-packed plot. This well-crafted book will give all readers a better understanding of the difficulty of belonging in a new country.
The ALAN Review Connie J. Russell
Spring 1995 Eau Claire Area School District

Triangle by Jon Ripslinger Romance/Handicaps/Sports
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 277 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-200048-8
As its title suggests, this novel deals with a very complicated love triangle focusing on three high-school graduates who have been friends since grade school. Although Joy and Jeremy are deeply involved with each other, they have vowed to keep their relationship a secret from Darin, who believes that Joy will follow him to college and eventually marry him. Darin's hold on Joy is based on a tragic accident in which he becomes paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. When Joy becomes pregnant with Jeremy's child, the truth is revealed when Joy is injured in the state championship softball game. This novel should capture the interest of mature teens. The sports action in the story should entertain fans of girls' softball.
The ALAN Review Kay Parks Bushman
Spring 1995 Ottawa High School

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

de Trevino, Elizabeth Borton
Leona, a Love Story
Reviewed by Margaret J. Ford
Library/Media Specialist
Campbell-Memorial High School
Campbell, Ohio

Taylor, Theodore
Walking Up a Rainbow
Reviewed by M. Jean Greenlaw
Regents Professor
University of North Texas
Denton, Texas

Bosse, Malcolm
The Examination
Reviewed by Laura M. Zaidman
Professor of English
University of South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina

Collier, James Lincoln and Christopher Collier
With Every Drop of Blood
Reviewed by Charles R. Duke
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina

Leona, A Love Story by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino Mexico/War ofIndependence
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 151 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-374-34382-9
Leona Vicario, a wealthy young woman of Spanish and Mexican descent, not only discovers her true love but also her true allegiance to the revolutionary factions of the Mexican War of Independence. Along with Andres Quintana Roo, a young lawyer, revolutionary, and Leona's prometido, or fiance, she endures many hardships as she loses her family's wealth and connections in the battle for freedom.
The magic of this historical romance is the fact that Leona Vicario and Andres Quintana Roo are real figures in the struggle for Mexican independence.Elizabeth Borton de Trevino weaves a rich tapestry of Spanish language(translated in a glossary at the end of the novel), custom, and Mexican history as she fictionalizes the lives of these two heroes of the War of Independence.The author, a Newbery Medalist for I, Juan de Pareja, another wonderful historical novel, recreates characters and situations worthy of recreational reading or a connection with multicultural or language studies.
The ALAN Review Margaret J. Ford
Spring 1995 Campbell-Memorial High School

The Examination by Malcolm Bosse Historical Fiction
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 296 pp. $17.00 ISBN: 0-374-32234-1
Set in sixteenth-century China, this challenging novel portrays two very different brothers representing the yin and yang -- life's opposites.Brilliant but passive scholar Chen, 19, cannot journey alone to take several government examinations for civil service; so his more worldly, aggressive brother, Hong, 15, accompanies him. Life-threatening encounters, including floods, famine, locust plague, river pirates, and spying, test the brothers' characters as they travel from their remote western village, down the Yangtze River, finally reaching Beijing's Forbidden City. They pass their different tests similarly by being true to themselves.
Bosse stimulates the reader's mental agility with both complex philosophical issues (e.g., individual versus ruler) and quotations from Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist thought. On the other hand, the author engages the emotions with detailed graphic violence (e.g., excruciating torture and decapitated corpses).The advanced high school reader who completes The Examination will better understand how the contrary principles of dualistic Chinese philosophy can unite for a harmonious whole.
The ALAN Review Laura M. Zaidman
Spring 1995 University of South Carolina

Walking Up a Rainbow by Theodore Taylor Historical Fiction
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 307 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-15-294512-1
In 1851, Susan Carlisle is thirteen, orphaned, and the heiress of her parents' beautiful home and two thousand sheep. Enter the villain, the owner of a gambling den and house of ill repute, to whom Susan's father owes $15,000 (at three percent interest). In the best tradition of the "Perils of Pauline,"Susan vows to outwit her nemesis and win back her home. Her plan involves a trip west to California with her sheep and all of the ensuing danger, as well as her determination to win the hand of a cowboy who goes with her on the trail.
The book is a wonderful send-up, complete with spunky heroine and other fascinating characters. Filled with action, the book is nevertheless a bit long; a reader might get a little weary before Susan finally gets back home.Taylor's dialogue is crisp, and the story is replete with folksy sayings. The section told in the voice of the cowboy provides an interesting counterpoint in language differences. Historical fiction buffs will find this a fun read.
The ALAN Review M. Jean Greenlaw
Spring 1995 University of North Texas

With Every Drop of Blood by James Lincoln Collier Civil War
and Chrisopher Collier ISBN: 0-385-32028-0
Delacorte, 1994. 236 pp. $15.95
While trying to transport food to the Confederate troops, young Johnny is captured by a Yankee -- Cush, a runaway slave. Although Johnny has trouble accepting Cush as his equal, eventually the two come to appreciate each other, and Johnny ends up rescuing Cush when he is captured by the Rebels. The story highlights the division between whites and blacks at the time of the Civil War, but it also shows in a very human way how such differences can be overcome when survival becomes a common bond. The narrative moves quickly, and the events that bring the characters together are historically true. Though the book contains some racial slurs, the authors provide a clear historical context for their presence in the story. Boys age ten and above should find this a fast-moving, thought-provoking story about the Civil War and about the role that race played in it.
The ALAN Review Charles R. Duke
Spring 1995 Appalachian State University

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

Thesman, Jean
Nothing Grows Here
Reviewed by Susanne L. Johnston
Lecturer in English
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, Wisconsin

Voigt, Cynthia
When She Hollers
Reviewed by Diana Mitchell
English Teacher
Sexton High School
Lansing, Michigan

Sweeney, Joyce
Reviewed by Gerry McBroom
Assistant Dean, Arts and Sciences
Albuquerque Technical-Vocational Institute
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Lasky, Kathryn
Memoirs of a Bookbat
Reviewed by Elizabeth Poe
Associate Professor of English
Radford University
Radford, Virginia

Nothing Grows Here by Jean Thesman Family/Friendship/Moving/Death
HarperCollins, 1994. 182 pp. $14.00 ISBN: 0-06-024457-7
A year after the death of her father, Maryanne and her mother start over in anew town where they live in a run-down apartment with thin walls, no view, and no yard. Missing her father, her friends, her house, and her beloved garden, Maryanne longs to grow flowers as she and her father used to do together. At first she resents her mother's new romance, but when they move into a house with a garden and Maryanne puts her hands back into the soil, she begins to grow and accept her losses and to understand her mother's needs.
Thesman's book is both touching and humorous as she deals effectively with the difficult tasks of accepting the death of a parent and moving to a new town and school. Middle-school students will enjoy the relationship between Maryanne and her friends, and the trials of being in seventh grade.
The ALAN Review Susanne L. Johnston
Spring 1995 University of Wisconsin-Stout

Shadow by Joyce Sweeney Relationships/ESP/Cats
Delacorte, 1994. 216 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-385-32051-5
Joyce Sweeney deftly integrates themes of sibling relationships, psychic powers, love-hate, and life-death into this readable and enjoyable novel.Sarah, a bright fourteen-year-old writer, feels the presence of her recently deceased cat, Shadow. Although neither her parents, two brothers, nor best friend Julian believes her, the family's new housekeeper also feels the cat's spirit trying to protect Sarah from something terrible.
As the sibling rivalry between Sarah's brothers escalates, so do Sarah's nightmares and visions, culminating in a terrifying incident in which Shadow does protect Sarah. The evolving events intertwine so that even unbelieving readers will be drawn into this suspenseful plot.
The ALAN Review Gerry McBroom
Spring 1995 Albuquerque Technical-Vocational Institute

When She Hollers by Cynthia Voigt Sexual Abuse
Scholastic, 1994. 177 pp. $13.95 ISBN: 0-590-46714-X
Lies are woven into the fabric of Tish's family life. Her mother lies to herself about the horror happening in her own house. Her stepfather couches his night-time visits to Tish's room in lies. Even Tish lies by daily creating a new persona for herself at school in order to preserve her mystery and her"I-don't-care" attitude.
Then Tish confronts her stepfather with a knife at breakfast. Will this change what's happening to her? Will this prevent her from ending up dead like Miranda?
This tension-filled, fast-paced book is hard to put down. My only discomfort with this novel is the "solution" offered to Tish at the end, which seems beyond the reach of many victims and a bit too easy. Most teens will enjoy this terrifying, vividly written novel, especially if they want a close-up look at the face of sexual abuse.
The ALAN Review Diana Mitchell
Spring 1995 Sexton High School

Memoirs of a Bookbat by Kathryn Lasky Censorship/ParentalRelationships
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 215 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-215727-1
At first, her parents' involvement with Family Action for Christian Education seemed to benefit Harper's whole family. Her father stopped drinking, her mother resumed baking, and they all traveled cross country in a new motor home, educating people about the evils of certain types of books. A prolific reader, Harper quickly becomes adept at hiding her library books. But when she discovers a hateful letter that her younger sister has co-authored to "JEWdy" Blume, and her parents force her to join them in an anti-abortion march, Harper knows she has to get away. Gray, her only friend, buys her a bus ticket, and Harper goes to live with her grandmother in Georgia, who loves her for who she is and will encourage her to read and think for herself.
Poignant and provocative, this absorbing story will surely generate discussion about parental rights and responsibilities as well as the issue of censorship.This is an important book.
The ALAN Review Elizabeth Poe
Spring 1995 Radford University

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

Nixon, Joan Lowery
Land of Dreams
Reviewed by Christy Hammer
English Teacher
Mickle Junior High School
Lincoln, Nebraska

Mazer, Anne, ed.
Going Where I'm Coming From
Reviewed by Sati Maharaj-Boggs
Assistant Professor of English
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina

Pfeffer, Susan Beth
Twice Taken
Reviewed by Jeanne M. Gerlach
Associate Professor of Education
West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia

McClain, Ellen Jaffee
No Big Deal
Reviewed by Joanne Peters
Kelvin High School
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Land of Dreams by Joan Lowery Nixon Problem Novel/Immigration
Delacorte, 1994. 152 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-31170-2
Kristin Swenson and her parents emigrate to a Swedish community in Minnesota, where her father can farm and make a life for his family. Excited about a new life in America, Kristin quickly learns that her parents' ideas are still those of the old country. Intrigued by the suffragist movement, Kristin learns a great deal about herself, her parents, Johan Olsen, and people in the community as she struggles for her own independence.
Middle-school students will identify with the characters in Land of Dreams. Set in Minnesota in 1902, the novel approaches topics that are of interest to adolescents today: dating, parental authority, values and beliefs, and roles of men and women. Although the plot of the novel revolves around the culture of the times and of an arranged marriage, Kristin's stance for her own beliefs and her discovery of what it means to care deeply about another person will interest readers today.
The ALAN Review Christy Hammer
Spring 1995 Mickle Junior High School

Twice Taken by Susan Beth Pfeffer Missing Children
Delacorte, 1994. 199 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-32033-7
Pfeffer describes one of the nation's growing concerns: missing children.Sixteen-year-old Brooke (or Amy) recognizes her father on a TV commercial that announces to the world that he has kidnapped her. She calls the 800 number to identify herself as the missing girl, and her life changes rapidly. An overnight stay with foster parents, a day in court, a meeting with her real mother and new family all seem overwhelming. But a secret student support group helps her begin to put her life back together. Pfeffer poses realistic questions for young readers to ponder. How do you know when parents truly love you? Do you love everyone when they love you?
The ALAN Review Jeanne Gerlach
Spring 1995 West Virginia University

Going Where I'm Coming From, edited by Anne Mazer Multicultural
Persea Books, 1995. 163 pp. $15.95 ISBN: 0-89255-205-0
This is an outstanding collection of fourteen personal narratives by fourteen different writers who were either born and grew up in the United States, or who migrated to the United States while they were young. From their unique perspectives, these writers recount inspiring and true stories of growing up and adapting to life in the cultural milieu of the United States. What is most fascinating about this collection is that each writer takes a journey in to her/his past in search of identity, and this search facilitates self-discovery.This discovery, as the reader comes to learn through each story, is that who we are is vastly dependent upon where we've been. These narratives hold a definite appeal for those students who have grown up in the United States as well as for those who have been exposed to life in two cultures.
The ALAN Review Sati Maharaj-Boggs
Spring 1995 Appalachian State University

No Big Deal by Ellen Jaffee McClain Homosexuality/Adolescent Problems
Lodestar, 1994. 187 pp. $14.99 ISBN: 0-525-67483-7
Overweight, a nerd, and not the popular fashion plate that her mother would like as a daughter, Janice Green knows what it's like to be different. When her favorite teacher becomes the victim of homophobic harassment, she's sympathetic: it's no big deal if he is gay, and, besides, he's a great teacher. But her mother is among the parents threatening to have the teacher fired. How Janice copes with her personal and ethical difficulties is the subject of No Big Deal. The subject is serious, but McClain writes with humor and sensitivity about an issue which both teachers and students increasingly confront.
The ALAN Review Joanne Peters
Spring 1995 Kelvin High School

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

Paulsen, Gary
Mr. Tucket
Reviewed by James E. Davis
Professor of English
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

Soto, Gary
Reviewed by Joan Nist
Professor Emerita
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama

Haskins, Jim
Black Eagles
Reviewed by Gary D. Schmidt
Professor of English
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Archer, Jules
A House Divided: The Lives of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee
Reviewed by Richard F. Abrahamson
Professor of Literature
University of Houston
Houston, Texas

Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen Frontier Survival
Delacorte, 1994. 166 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-385-31169-9
Paulsen has done it again -- a survival story with relentless adventure that involves the reader from the first sentence and never lets up until the last.This time it's about fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket, who, as the story opens, is traveling on a wagon train with his family to Oregon. While practicing shooting with his new birthday rifle, he tarries behind the wagon train and is captured by Pawnees. Although part of a loving, protective family, Francis is tough, fights hard, and regularly tries to escape, but is unable to until he is helped by Mr. Jason Grimes, a one-armed trapper and mountain man who sells gunpowder to the Pawnees. Under the tough tutelage of Grimes, Francis grows up fast, becoming worthy of the name Mr. Tucket. Concentrated action, two unforgettable characters, sparse style, and a complicated mentor relationship should keep this book around a long time.
The ALAN Review James E. Davis
Spring 1995 Ohio University

Black Eagles by Jim Haskins African Americans in Aviation
Scholastic, 1995. 185 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-590-45912-0
This important collection of biographical sketches explores a group of pilots who have been unjustly neglected: the African-American men and women who contributed to the development of flight in the early part of this century and who were insightful enough to see its commercial and military uses -- even when they were not in a position to affect some of those uses. Haskins examines fliers like Bessie Coleman, one of the first African- American aviators to popularize the sport and to receive a pilot's license; James Banning, who made a transcontinental flight; Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who fought through the segregation of the military hierarchy; and Guion Blyford, the first African American in space. Haskins amasses an eclectic and important group of fliers, and what unites them all is a determination to show that African Americans too have always had a role in the development and expansion of new technologies.Flight was one way -- like baseball -- for an African American to be integrated into mainstream America. If the book is at times choppy and if it periodically reads like a newsstand magazine, it is yet compelling in that it brings out aside of aeronautic history that has hitherto been unknown. An important book for all school libraries.
The ALAN Review Gary D. Schmidt
Spring 1995 Calvin College

Jesse by Gary Soto Mexican American/Coming of Age
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 166 pp. $14.95 ISBN: 0-15-240239-X
Jesse is a gentle story of a gentle boy growing into manhood. There is violence -- Jesse must fight a bully twice -- and there is an ominous background of a drunken stepfather, poverty and prejudice in Mexican-American life, and the era of Vietnam. Author Gary Soto nevertheless writes in a quiet tone of hope and faith. Jesse, artistic and religious, is forced to field work to pay for food while he attends a junior college after leaving high school. He remembers that once "I worked on my knees nine hours -- one hundred seventy-eight trays of grapes -- so I could buy my mom an umbrella." The book ends with the shock of Abel, Jesse's older brother, being drafted. A friend (named Jesus) tells Jesse not to follow by enlisting. Instead he returns to summer field labor. Readers of Jesse will gain appreciation for a young man persevering amid family dysfunction, ethnic injustice, and confusion about goals and girls.
The ALAN Review Joan Nist
Spring 1995 Auburn University

A House Divided: The Lives of Ulysses S. Grant and CivilWar/Biography
Robert E. Lee by Jules Archer ISBN: 0-590-48325-0
Scholastic, 1995. 184 pp. $14.95
The Civil War can be described with contrasting terms like "North and South" or "slavery and abolition." Jules Archer uses this idea of differences to chronicle the lives of Grant and Lee.
In alternating chapters, Archer details the generals' lives, from childhood, to roles as military officers, to the surrender at Appomattox, to Lee's life after the war and Grant's rise to the U.S. presidency. The alternating structure makes the differences between these two men all the more pronounced. Words like "dignified" and "polite" are used to describe Lee, while Grant is typified as "gruff" and "sloppy." This contrast continues throughout the book and culminates at Appomattox when a cigar-smoking Grant, wearing dusty mud-spattered clothing, meets Lee, who is dressed in an "immaculate gray uniform, a red silk sash, and ornamented boots."
Teenagers will come away from this book with a portrait of two very different men who fought a war that changed a nation. They'll also be presented with a picture of two dedicated patriots who earned each other's respect.
The ALAN Review Richard F. Abrahamson
Spring 1995 University of Houston

Clip and File Reviews of New Hardcover Poetry and Short Story Collections
Virginia R. Monseau and Gary M. Salvner, editors

Marcus, Leonard S., ed.
Reviewed by Mike Angelotti
College of Education
University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma

Sauerwein, Leigh
The Way Home
Reviewed by Jackie Cronin
South High School
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Meyer, Carolyn
Rio Grande Stories
Reviewed by Bonnie O. Ericson
Professor of Education
California State University
Northridge, California

Brooks, Martha
Traveling on into the Light and Other Stories
Reviewed by Edna Earl Edwards
Professor of Education and English
West Georgia College
Carrolton, Georgia

Lifelines by Leonard S. Marcus, ed. Poetry
Dutton, 1994. 116 pp. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-45164-1
The fundamental theme of Lifelines is simply put in its subtitle: "A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life." Not only does Leonard Marcus sequence sections of the collection chronologically, beginning with a selection from Monkhouse's "To a New Born Child" and ending with a group of epitaph poems, but also he includes writers present and past, and cultures U.S.and abroad. You will recognize Yehuda Amachai, Emily Dickinson, Mel Glenn, and Maya Angelou as well as the most prolific "Anonymous." One of her/his works is most notable in its brevity and relevance to the readers of this review: "God made the bees, The bees make honey; We do the work, The teacher gets the money." The poems are characteristically short, simple, and powerful. The mini-bios are a perfect classroom complement. Surely, there is something here for all ages, and what a marvelous collection to teach and read from. To finish, a 1741 churchyard epitaph: "She drank good ale, strong punch and wine,/And lived to the age of ninety-nine." Anon.
The ALAN Review Mike Angelotti
Spring 1995 University of Oklahoma

Rio Grande Stories by Carolyn Meyer Short Stories/Cultural Diversity
Harcourt Brace, 1994. 257 pp. $10.95 ISBN: 0-15-200548-X
Seventh graders enrolled in the Heritage Project at Rio Grande Middle School decide to raise money for their school by writing and selling a book.Organized in an interesting fashion, each chapter of Rio Grande Storiesfocuses on one (or occasionally on two) of the students: each student's story is followed by his or her contribution to the Heritage Project book. These student-authored contributions reflect the writers' diverse backgrounds and cover a variety of topics, including a grandfather who was a Navajo code talker in World War II, the history of tortillas, and an account of the secret Jews of New Mexico. As the book progresses, the stories become interconnected as the students form friendships and work together.
Rio Grande Stories is delightfully rich in detail about Albuquerque and the surrounding area. Most appropriate for middle-school students, it would work as a fictional companion to The Foxfire Book and could even inspire students to write their own class books.
The ALAN Review Bonnie O. Ericson
Spring 1995 California State University, Northridge

The Way Home by Leigh Sauerwe in Short Stories/Americana
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 118 pp. $15.00 ISBN: 0-374-38247-6
Five of the six short stories in this collection for middle-school and junior-high-school readers work wonderfully well. In conjunction with American history, minority studies, or standing alone as poignant vignettes of unfortunate aspects of Americana, these stories are both readable and teachable. Also ideal as read-alouds, they could generate significant classroom discussion. Plots involve a Native-American Vietnam vet and his unacknowledged son; a recently widowed pioneer woman alone in a sod house;runaway slaves escaping via riverboat; a woman, captured as a girl by the Cheyenne and cast off by her family after returning to white civilization; and a cerebral-palsied child who meets an old and denigrated Geronimo. The sixth story, a seemingly autobiographical tag-on, has its merits, but is out of sync thematically with the rest of the selections.
The ALAN Review Jackie Cronin
Spring 1995 South High School

Traveling On into the Light and Other ShortStories/Insight/Relationships
Stories by Martha Brooks ISBN: 0-531-06863-3
Orchard Books, 1994. 136 pp. $14.95
In these eleven stories, young adults face crises and gain insights. Critical incidents include being wrongfully accused of dealing drugs; being rejected by an abused mother; accepting and being accepted by strangers; finding peace in a church; responding to accusations of being gay; accepting a father's being gay;adjusting to a father's suicide; accepting an alcoholic father's death; putting a deceased mother's memories in perspective; and struggling to maintain individuality.
Set in the northern United States or in Canada, most stories are narrated in first person. Six have female protagonists; five have male protagonists. The three final stories form sequels, with one from a male and two from a female perspective. The characters move from isolation/alienation to acceptance and insight; all travel into the light.
Protagonists' ages and problems and the treatment of themes make the stories worthwhile for high-school readers.
The ALAN Review Edna Earl Edwards
Spring 1995 West Georgia College