CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 2004
Kalen looked hopefully at his mother. "Mom, working out is important to me. It'll only take up one more hour of my time. I'm not working at the store that much. I can go to the gym on Friday night and Saturday afternoon after I get off work. It won't interfere with school," he promised.
Mrs. Sommers sighed. "Okay, Kalen. You can give it a try. But I don't think you should worry too much about being muscular. You're only seventeen years old. Give your body time to finish growing up."
Kalen kissed his mother on the cheek. "Thanks Mom! Don't worry," he said happily.
He decided to find out more about Scott's workout routine and new diet as soon as possible. At school, Kalen had seen lots of guys his age who had bigger biceps and better abs than he had. What if Amber decided to check out those guys? Kalen didn't want that to happen. He decided to start a serious workout program by the end of the week.
Kalen Sommers seems like a typical teenage guy, trying to do well at school, playing basketball, managing the stress of a part-time job, and dating a pretty girl. Everything changes when he decides he wants to join a local gym and bulk up.
Muscle Bound, a novel in the "Bayview High" series, introduces readers to the world of boys, sports, and gym workouts, and it is narrated from a male point of view. It is informative as well as entertaining. Kalen and the readers quickly learn about why teen boys might try steroids to improve their looks, how the steroids could be obtained, and what their adverse effects are likely to be.
The characters, both male and female, are well-drawn and interesting. Although the plot is somewhat predictable, the book moves along quickly and has enough action and tension to keep readers' interest.
The "Bayview High" series is designed for reluctant readers or readers whose first language isn't English. The issues dealt with are topical and reveal the challenges and pressures many teens face in their day-to-day high school lives. If the novel were used with a class, the themes would lead easily to a lively group discussion.
Although a high interest/low-vocab book, Muscle Bound looks like a regular paperback in size, shape, type font and cover, and thus it doesn't advertise itself as a book for reluctant readers. It contains a glossary of terms used in bodybuilding and, at just over 100 pages, is not overwhelming for a reader with challenges.
There are teaching guides available for the Bayview High series which provide chapter summaries and suggested activities for students. This novel is good; the price is right. Muscle Bound would be a worthwhile purchase for elementary or secondary school libraries or classrooms.
Ann Ketcheson, a former teacher of high school English and French, is currently the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate, Peterborough, 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.