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THE TAKING OF ROOM 114 by Mel Glenn


A Hostage Drama in Poems

by Mel Glenn

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-67548-5
Publisher: Dutton

 A veteran high-school teacher cracks, holding his class at gunpoint on the last day of school in this drama-in-poetry from Glenn (Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?, 1996, etc.). Writing in conversational free-verse trains of thought, Glenn probes the hopes, fears, conceits, and moods of students, officials, and bystanders, introducing each of the hostages with a series of vignettes that trace the evolution of a particular idea or relationship through four years of school and to the beginning of class that fateful day. Fond of playing with language and irony--e.g., pairing poems in which the speakers express opposite views in nearly the same words--the author keeps the focus so firmly on individuals that the plot is really only a pretext for a series of earnest character portraits. From Morton Potter's determined assault on his weight problem to Denise Slattery cooing to her unborn child, readers will find plenty of familiar peer attitudes and situations with which to identify and to ponder. The teacher's own voice is heard in a handful of despondent poems: ``I speak./Who listens?/I teach./Who cares? . . . There's little I have done to make a difference.'' After the teacher's capture, police find a clipping in his pocket describing his 27-year-old son's apparent suicide by drowning. An arresting, if undeveloped, premise cements a gallery of recognizable high-school seniors fretting about--or blowing off--their pasts and futures. (Fiction. 12-14)