CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007
The “Grantham High Series” consists of books which have non-readers in mind. Thus, they are short and contain everyday vocabulary while dealing with high-interest stories whose plots revolve around real-life issues facing modern teenagers.
In Stand by Me, the new school year starts out for Sarah with dreams of great art classes, track practices, dances and, most of all, happy times with her boyfriend, John. When her parents announce that her autistic brother Simon will also be at Grantham in the Sped (Spec Ed) class, Sarah wonders if her life will ever be the same. She's very supportive of Simon during the holidays, but how will her friends react when they see him at school? And speaking of friends, just what should someone do when a good friend is making bad choices? Loyalty can mean tough decisions.
Isabelle, the main character in Something Special, has been given an English assignment entitled "Something I believe in." But Isabelle feels she is just an average person with average looks and average grades, and she envies her friends who seem so much more involved in life than she is - even her troubled and troublesome sister, Freya. An elderly lady, Mrs. Adams, and Isabelle's friend Rupert are mentors who help her see her true value.
Shapiera is a high school teacher-librarian who presents teens in everyday school situations and takes readers beyond the book to question personal values. In an interview with Vanwell Publishing, Shapiera states, "Human potential, dignity and quiet heroism are what I want my children to appreciate and what I respect passionately enough to try and write about." Shapiera's emphasis on teaching something through her young adult novels is admirable, but this focus means the plots are somewhat shallow and quite predictable. Her intended audience, pre-teens and young teens, may absorb some of the messages regarding self-esteem and finding one's own identity, but one suspects they would appreciate stories with more depth of plot and character.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.