________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007


One Crazy Night. (New Series Canada).

Paul Kropp.
Toronto, ON: HIP Books, 2005.
88 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 1-897039-10-7.

Subject Headings:
Storms-Juvenile fiction.
Robbery-Juvenile fiction.
Heroes-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Catherine Howett.

** /4


One Crazy Night: Teacher’s Guide.

Lori Jamison.
Toronto, ON: HIP Books, 2005.
20 pp., pbk., $5.95.

Review by Catherine Howett.

*** /4



"Have you ever done this kind of thing before?" I asked Mrs. Plotnik.

Mrs. Plotnik looked up at me. "Only in my nightmares," she replied.

"I had my children in the hospital, like any sensible person. Push, Elaine."


"This is like another movie I saw once -- was it Alien?" said the punk.

"I hope not," I replied.

One Crazy Night is one of the HIP (High Interest Publishing) “New Series Canada” series. This set of programmed/standardized text materials and programs is designed to give 'reluctant readers' and new/ESL readers a 'tool-kit' of resources to enhance their literacy abilities, and to give educators a packaged means for student progress monitoring. These materials tend to be action based and plot-driven with minimal character development. They are presented in a short, familiar format with controlled vocabulary, an immediate time-frame, and graphics to enhance comprehension. Accompanying teacher guides present strategies for giving students the language to talk about texts and tasks to assist in the organization of information.

     The author of One Crazy Night, the prolific Paul Kropp, has produced a range of high interest/low vocabulary materials for this imprint, as well as a number of young adult novels, picture books, and materials for parents interested in literacy. This comedic attempt is a change from his other 'issue-driven' materials. Illustrator Andrew Gooderham supplies slightly edgy, whimsical cartoon sketches to supplement the text. The accompanying teacher's guide by Lori Jamison is a basic, standardized teacher's resource which provides five worksheets of structured activities and a quiz. As well, she includes a summary for talking the book, author information, and an information sheet for potential discussion of types of humour.

     This comedic account of a 'bad day' suffered by a teenager working the evening shift in a store in a small town 'between Nowhere and Noplace,' which includes a storm-induced power failure, a robbery, an unexpected birth, and the requisite bathroom humour ends up being rather overdone. There are hits -- but more misses.

     On the one hand, the illustrations are excellent and follow the textual content well. Apart from some spelling errors, the book is well written and edited. However, the characters are stereotypical and implausible: the main adult characters range from nasty to ineffectual to saccharine. Kropp's female caricatures are rather blatantly sexist. While the primary character Todd shows growth throughout the story, other characters' qualities fluctuate to accommodate the story line. Kropp inserts a number of cultural references, but some are lacking in currency -- for example, Todd's cell phone ring is the song from Gilligan's Island. The ending is particularly contrived and somewhat patronizing to the reader - there are no consequences for the attempted robbery, and there is a troubling reduction in the protagonist's educational goals.

     The teacher's guide would appear to better serve the needs of the lower end of the age range. For older readers, perhaps the discussion of the potential humour of the piece could be replaced by a discussion of the range of implausibility in the story.

     There is a need for this type of material in school library collections. Despite the shortcomings of this book, it does provide a high-interest option to the issue books in the series.

Recommended with reservations.

Catherine Howett, a recent graduate of the MLIS program at the University of British Columbia, is currently working at the UBC Education Library and as a Resource Centre consultant.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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