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KIDS R US

EXCERPTS FROM THE 1999-2000 HARRY SINGER FOUNDATION NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY CONTEST

A valuable read for teachers, parents and adolescents concerned with the teenage hopes and dreams.

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Editor Bohannon-Kaplan offers an anthology of excerpts from high school essay contest winners from across the nation.

Adolescents and teenagers want a place and purpose in the world, yet they’re often cast aside as “too young” or “too inexperienced” to contribute much of value to society—a gross underestimation, says this group of authors and essay winners These teens want nothing more than to find a way to change this paradigm and offer young adults a way to contribute to the world. Approaches are varied, but the editor smartly begins this collection with a series of excerpts dealing with causes of the problem. Why is it that adolescents are ignored, handed “dumbed down” material to read and ingest, and given “pats on the back” just for showing up and doing the right thing? Why aren’t they challenged? Some essayists remark that the fault lies with the parents and their tendency to devote too much time to the workplace and not enough time to challenging and raising fulfilled, ambitious children. Others cite the media and a lack of parental guidance, which can lead teenagers to witness and absorb irresponsible habits. One insightful student remarks that teenagers are urged to grow up too fast, as they’re bombarded with images of celebrities on television. From here, the book moves away from the problem and toward a solution: Readers will find hopeful, creative responses from a wide array of teenagers who seem to take responsibility for their generation’s purported lack of focus. Writers offer specific advice, from teenagers creating their own volunteer opportunities, to special classes dedicated to adolescents learning who they are. Throughout, there’s a constant call for help—that is, a call for adults to help these young students facilitate change, find themselves and find valuable roles they can play within their community. Of particular note is the diversity of voices and opinions. Some students seem to take matters into their own hands, focusing on what they can do moving forward. Others isolate the reasons why they’ve been stunted, unmotivated or even discouraged. Combined, these voices create an enjoyable, important book that represents a cross-section of young people ready for change.

A valuable read for teachers, parents and adolescents concerned with the teenage hopes and dreams.

Pub Date: June 15, 2000

ISBN: 978-0915915392

Page Count: 247

Publisher: Wellington Publications

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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JUPITER STORM

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

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A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.

Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943169-32-0

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Plum Street Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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