recess radio program

10/16/06
Teen Read Week
    by Ramona Caponegro

The American Library Association is "acting up" these days in celebration of Teen Read Week. This year's theme, "Get Active @ Your Library," is meant to encourage teens not only to become more frequent library visitors but also to lead fuller, more active lives, a message seconded by popular young adult novelist Edward Bloor. Bloor's first three novels--Tangerine, Crusader, and Story Time--take place in diverse settings--on sports fields, in the video arcade of a shopping mall, and in a haunted magnet school, respectively--but the protagonists in the stories are drawn to unraveling the mysteries about themselves and their places within the community.

In Tangerine, Paul Fisher, a legally blind soccer player, seeks to find an identity separate from that of his brother, a football star--and a sociopath; while in Crusader, Roberta Ritter emerges from her isolating daily routine to help solve a hate crime. And, in Story Time, Kate and George Melvil must decide what they truly value in education and in their family. With plots far too complex to reduce to a few sentences, Bloor's novels explore issues of class, race, the legal system, public education, standardized testing, and the media, even as they describe their characters' journeys towards self-realization. As Bloor's protagonists struggle to understand both the world around them and their own positions within it, they search for information at the library, on the Internet, and in their communities and families, which they then use to confront the past and to change the future. At each novel's end, the main characters, acting upon their newly found knowledge, begin to lead the lives that they have sought--and fought for--and their discoveries offer others around them, be they middle school soccer players, struggling business owners, or homeless individuals, the same chance.

In Bloor's most recent novel, London Calling, which was just released last month, Martin Conway investigates his grandfather's role as a World War II diplomat, as well as his own eerily realistic dreams about a boy trapped in the cross fires of war. The book's plot summary and its tagline, "What did you do to help," suggest that this is another story in which Edward Bloor reminds his young adult audience of the importance of facing the problems of the past, personal or collective, and taking action to prevent their recurrence.

Sources:
http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/teenreading/trw/teenreadweek.htm
http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/display.pperl?isbn=9780375836350

Copyright 2006 Ramona Caponegro

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