________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007

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Stand By Me (Grantham High Series).

Michele Shapiera.
St. Catharines, ON: Vanwell, 2007.
64 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-1-55068-962-4.

Subject Headings:
Brothers and sisters-Juvenile fiction.
Autism-Juvenile fiction.
High schools-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**½  /4

   
   
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Something Special. (Grantham High Series).

Michele Shapiera.
St. Catharines, ON: Vanwell, 2007.
93 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-1-55068-960-0.

Subject Headings:
Identity (Psychology)-Juvenile fiction.
Intergenerational relations-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**½  /4

excerpts:

"Great," said Sarah half-heartedly. She felt left out and alone, especially because she didn't want to say where she had been. For a minute she was mad at John, picturing Mandi flirting with him. Then she stopped herself and thought about it. John always goes to Boomers after practice if he's not working. It's not his fault I wasn't there. It seemed to Sarah that the world was moving past her while she was standing still on the sidelines. Mandi could at least have called to ask me for some ideas, she thought. She doesn't seem worried about her friends' feelings; only being noticed by boys, even creepy ones like Eric or Dennis.

The bell rang for class, and gratefully Sarah went in, wishing she could sort out her feelings on this mixed-up day." (From Stand by Me).

"Rupert's voice was low and intense when he answered. "Isabelle," he said. "When are you going to stop trying to be someone you're not? Why do you always pretend you're something you aren't? You don't need to be like Freya or Melanie or Jasmine. I can't believe you don't get it. Live your own life, instead of wishing you were someone or something else. Why do you care what other people think?  Be yourself, and other people will understand you aren't some fake wanna-be.

Isabelle was shocked, and angry. "Well thank you very much, Mr. Expert," she said, and then did something she had never done to Rupert in all the years she had known him. She quietly hung up the phone and unplugged it." (From Something Special).

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.

Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

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

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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