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Directed by Christina Mairin
School Services of Canada, 1993. VHS cassette, 20 min., $99.95
Distributed by School Services of Canada, 66 Portland Street, Toronto, Ont., M5V 2M8.

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Kathleen L. Kellett-Betsos.

Volume 21 Number 5
1993 October

A new release in the series "Meet the Author," this videotape is an excellent introduction to Newfoundland author Kevin Major's novels for teenagers.

Major comments in simple language on his choice of narrative technique for each novel, such as the multiple narrative voices in Hold Fast and the epistolary form in Dear Bruce Springsteen. He describes his own writing methods, including the use of outlines and historical research (for example, Blood Red Ochre (Doubleday, 1989) relies on knowledge of the now extinct culture of the Beothuk of Newfoundland).

A former high school teacher, Major draws on his experiences with young people to create imaginative but realistic works with the predominant theme of family relation­ships, especially those between teenagers and alcoholic or absent parents. A variety of presentation techniques serves to provoke student interest.

In addition to Major's personal remarks about writing and censorship, the videotape includes readings by Major and short scenes adapted from his novels. Aspiring young writers will no doubt be intrigued by Major's work as an electronic writer in residence.

Unfortunately, the technical quality of this videotape does not always match that of its content: the image could be more clearly focused and, in certain places, better synchronized with the soundtrack. The Newfoundland scenery and folk music enhance the presentation. The short but informative teacher's guide has interesting suggestions for student work on Major's novels. Given the videotape's many qualities, the cost is quite reasonable. <

Kathleen L. Kellett-Betsos is an assistant professor at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, Ontario.
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