ALAN v22n3 - From The Editors


Two intertwined themes mark the articles in this issue of The ALAN Review: Diversity in literary form and diversity in such human characteristics as culture, race, and religion. Both authors of books for young adults and teachers who explore their meaning and effects on their readers weave these two themes throughout their articles. Sandy Asher, who has shared with us in past issues both her insights into youth and the literature they select to read, gives us a play based on one of her short stories, suggesting that drama is a mode that is important for young adults. The family she depicts is what is currently termed "dysfunctional," sadly a part of the diversity of our late twentieth century culture. Later in this issue, Larry Russick looks at the process of dramatizing The Pigman and the effects of that process on the students who carry it out. He re-enforces the idea exemplified by Sandy Asher's play that drama is -- or should be -- a powerful part of YA literature, one that can make real for performers the human differences that this and other novels reveal.

Naomi Nye, an exceptional poet, tells us the story of poetry as both the messenger of diversity and the bridge to understanding across that diversity. Her collection of poems from many cultures, This Same Sky, carries out that message.

Following the theme of the power and importance of culture, Claudia Mills, author of four books about the same young woman, discusses how, in the literary form of the sequel, each book moves her central character, Dinah, from a self-absorption caused by the culture in which she has grown up to an understanding of herself as one part of a large and complex universe. And author Marilyn Levy looks at the impact of literature about young people from many cultures on the self-images and prejudices of their young readers. Exploring a similar theme as played out in Dori Sanders' novel, Clover, Laura Zaidman details the cultural clashes that occur when a white woman raises her black stepchild in a setting of the child's rural black family and community.

Speare's historical novel, The Sign of the Beaver, Ann Moseley argues, explores the part that language differences play in cultural differences, in particular the oral tradition and use of signs by Native Americans and the written language of white settlers.

Barbara Bontempo links again for us the notion that drama is important for the impact of literature and that diversity -- and the prejudice that it frequently causes -- can be explored with young readers through drama. She shares with usher plan for applying drama to Mildred Taylor's Newbery Award winning novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

And, in "The Diversity Connection," Gretchen Schwartz reviews films, novels, nonfiction, and other forms in which both the dark side of cultural clashes and the hopeful results of cultural understanding are depicted for YA readers.

And so, this issue of The Review presents diverse literary ways into the issues, the conflicts, the confusion, and the rewards that come with the growing recognition among parents, teachers, librarians that this generation of young readers will not be able to escape, as some of us have, from a country, a world, where diversity will be an everyday part of their lives.