________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 6 . . . .November 12, 2004


Dear Liz. (Bayview High).

H.A. Levigne.
St. Catharines. ON: Vanwell, 2002.
128 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55068-132-X.

Subject Headings:
Student newspapers and periodicals-Juvenile fiction.
Loneliness-Juvenile fiction.
First loves-Juvenile fiction.
Schools-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4



Liz hated math. English was her favorite subject.

Someday, Liz was going to be a writer - a journalist. She wanted to interview famous people. Her articles would be printed in all the magazines. Everyone would want to be interviewed by Elizabeth A. Gordon. She closed her eyes and pictured herself as a journalist. There she was, wearing a power suit. Her long brown hair was styled in a French Twist. She twirled a pen in her perfectly polished fingers. She was interviewing Brad Pitt...mmm. He leaned closer to whisper something juicy in her ear. She could smell his spicy cologne...

"Elizabeth? Could you share your answer for this problem with the class?" Liz snapped to attention, her daydream forgotten. Mr. O'Grady was standing with his hands on his hips. He raised his eyebrows and waited for her to answer.

"Um...I think...uh...could you repeat the question?" Liz stammered. She felt the heat creep up her neck and into her face. Someone giggled on the other side of the room.

Mr. O'Grady frowned. "Maybe if you paid more attention in class, you would be able to tell me the value of x," he said. A hand waving in the air caught his eye. "Yes, Jenna?" he said, turning away from Liz.

A pretty blond-haired girl smiled knowingly and gave the answer. Liz slid down in her seat, her face burning.


Liz Gordon loves to write and dreams of becoming a journalist. The first step toward this career goal is writing the advice column for the Bayview High newspaper. In her personal life, things are chaotic. Liz has a crush on Mark, is being tutored in math by Jeff, is just a good friend to Richard.....and then begins to receive e-mail from Shyguy, a secret admirer.

     Dear Liz is part of the "Bayview High" series which follows the ups and downs of life as a female high school student: dating, being invited to parties, looking and acting like one of the crowd. Teens today face many challenges and pressures, and these are illustrated through the characters and situations of this fast-paced, interesting novel. Many of the topics and themes would form excellent springboards for class discussions of a variety of relevant topics.

     This book is comprised of simple sentences and a low vocabulary level, making it ideal for reluctant readers or readers whose first language isn't English. At the end, a glossary is included of words related to newspapers and journalism. Unlike earlier high-interest/low vocab books, this series is normal paperback size and uses a normal font size. No stigma attached! The cover is attractive but subdued. With just over 100 pages and short chapters, it is ideal for students who have difficulties with reading. Although the plot isn't new or different, the characters are believable and present an honest look at the high school world of today.

     Teaching guides are available for novels in this series. They include chapter summaries and suggestions for student activities. Dear Liz is well worth the very reasonable cost and would be a good addition both to elementary and high 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.

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

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