FROM THE EDITORSIn this issue of The ALAN Review, Julian Thompson, who has provided us with many fine works of literature including the classic Grounding of Group Six, considers the values that we, teenagers and teachers and other middle-aged adults, claim to hold and those values we truly act on. He concludes that in religions, in reformatories, and in schools, in all the places where we try to teach values, literature -- and for teenage readers, especially, literature that is about them -- is a powerful force in values education because "[T]his is values education at its best, when kids are discussing, even arguing about, the suitability of this behavior over that one." In a very real sense, he has captured the theme of this issue: Values and where they come from.
Listen to Rodman Philbrick talk about his path to the writing of Freak the Mighty, a path that took him back to his sixth-grade classroom and what was important then, an intensity of all emotions. And then Francis Kazemek points to a literature of young soldiers caught up in two wars, Vietnam in one case, Afghanistan in the other. She makes clear that Walter Dean Myers and Oleg Yermakov, the authors of the two works she considers, speak through what she terms "a curriculum of caring" to the young person in each of us about the pain of war and of returning from war. She sees both books cutting through the surface to hold up to the light of war the values a people truly hold. Later in this issue, K. L. Mendt explores the richness of what he terms "spiritual things." Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and the other faiths that he studies cut to the heart of values and exist and frequently interact in the body of YA literature he examines. One of those types of values systems is Taoism, and Jan Griffin explores how that system is reflected in the Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin, where its main principles govern the events and characters.
Part of exploring values is examining, understanding, becoming a part of a great diversity of lives and cultures. Gretchen Schwarz's article on "foreign" YA literature and Judy McDonald's bibliography of fiction and nonfiction explore the richness of our world and of that world as reflected in books for teenage readers. Gerrit and Barbara Bleeker see students writing poetry as one way to help students respond and make meaning from their response to literature and thus to explore the values they found there, and John Moore sees the metaphor as a way that the value and meaning of experiences can be expressed, perhaps are best expressed and understood.
Pulling this connection between response, values, and literature together, Ted Hipple suggests is an important book, Daniel Pennac's Better Than Life, which he reviews for us, ending with an appeal, "I urge you, my fellow lovers and teachers of reading, to read this book."
With this issue Kay Parks Bushman leaves as the Membership Connection editor and author of the Trivia Column. We truly appreciate her contribution to The ALAN Review and wish her well as she becomes the Secondary Section Chair. Jim Brewbaker of Columbus College in Georgia becomes the new writer of a trivia column that he calls "So You Think You Know Young Adult Literature." Cris Crowe of Brigham Young University will become the Membership Connection editor with the Fall issue.