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



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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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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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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