________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 12 . . . . February 6, 2009

cover The Paper. (Bayview High).

K.E. Calder.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada (Published by arrangement with Tea Leaf Press), 2008.
125 pp., pbk., $6.80.
ISBN 978-0-7791-7528-4.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Elizabeth Larssen.

*** /4


That night Ivan told his parents about failing out of History and Science. He also told them about the opportunity at the newspaper. They reacted just as he expected. That is to say, they didn't react at all. They weren't happy about his low marks. And they wanted to know if he had to take the courses over. But they just weren't the kind of parents who flipped out.

His mom and dad wanted him to do well in school. He was pretty sure of that. At least they weren't on his case about marks like some of his friends' parents.

“Do you think I should do the co-op at the newspaper?” Ivan asked his dad that evening in the kitchen. Mr. Belov was heating up a bowl of leftover soup in the microwave.

“It sounds like a good idea,” his dad said. “And you're failing History and Science, so you don't have much of a choice.” The microwave beeped. He took the soup out, gave it a stir, and put it back in.

The Paper by K.E. Calder is a recent addition to the “Bayview High” series. Calder has written a number of excellent books for reluctant readers, and The Paper is no exception. Like other titles in the series, The Paper is a gripping and fast-paced story. The protagonist, Ivan, is well-written, and boys especially will relate to him and his challenges. Like many teens, Ivan has a stressful life -- he is having some trouble at school and also juggles a part-time job as a busboy. But his life changes when he is given an opportunity to work as an intern at the local newspaper. He soon uncovers a crime that will force him to make a difficult choice between his loyalty to a friend and a breaking a big story for the newspaper.

     This book is a good choice for reluctant readers who are reading below their grade level or for those who are learning English as a second language. Although the language is simple, the high interest/low vocabulary format should encourage all but the most resistant reluctant readers. The helpful glossary at the back of the book has terms related to journalism and newspapers.

     My main concern about The Paper is the shelf appeal of the book itself. With the popularity of the young adult series books, Tea Leaf Press has to compete with publishing houses that provide the slick covers that teens have come to expect. Although the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," is true, we may be voices crying in the wilderness in the current media-driven culture. It's hard to get around the fact that glossy, inviting covers sell, and more subdued-looking books like the “Bayview High” series risk being left on the shelf.

   The Paper should be considered by both school and public librarians for their reluctant readers.


Elizabeth Larssen currently works as a children's librarian in suburban Vancouver, BC.

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

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