The canyon has always been a place of solitude and peace for young Zachary Barnes, thus when he discovers that a company has gotten permission to build a gated community there, Zachary is devastated and sets off to find a way to stop the construction.
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In Her Own Words...
"As a child growing up in Toronto, Canada, and then Los Angeles, I was painfully aware that my family was different. My parents, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, looked foreign, spoke English poorly, and–having only a few years of night school behind them–were barely literate in English. As if that wasn't enough to make me feel different, my mother worked at a time when few mothers did.
"In my drive to turn myself into a regular American kid, I became a watcher and listener–eager to learn whatever I could about the ways of the natives. In the ethnic enclave where we lived, watching and listening could only take me so far. To find out about the world beyond the borders of my neighborhood, I read newspapers, American history books, books on American customs and holidays, etiquette books, books on American cooking, and stories about American children–lots of stories. Stories were, I discovered, the best way to find out about things. They had it all–what people did and why they did it. Best of all, they made order and sense out of the confusion of life.
"I can now pass as an American thanks to those books I took out of the public library, and thanks to the public schools and public universities I attended, but I still feel like an outsider a lot of the time, and I'm still fascinated by people–especially people who are different from me. I want to know their stories–what they do, why they do it, and how they feel about it. It is this curiosity that first led me to become a newspaper reporter and then to write for children.
"After I graduated from Indiana University, my husband and I studied in the former Soviet Union. It was while living there as a stranger in that very different culture that I began to understand how my parents must have felt as immigrants in this country. Since then, my husband's work has taken us to live in Liberia, a village in the Yucatan, and London. With each of these moves has come a new experience of feeling different and the need to find out everything about the place so I can make sense of it.
"Over time, I have learned that children feel like outsiders for many reasons–they are new to the neighborhood, they are a different race, a different religion, their parents are poor, their clothes are wrong, they do things other kids don't do. This feeling of being different is a theme in several of my books. Often my heros and heroines are different–a rooster living where roosters are against the law; a poor girl who makes her living finding fossils at a time when girls didn't do such things; a pregnant teenager who decides to give up her baby.
"In addition to writing children's books, I am the co-author, with my husband, of a college textbook on child development. When I'm not writing, I like to read, cook for company, hike, walk my two border collies along the beach, and talk with my friends and children on the telephone."From School Library Journal:
Grade 4-7-Sixth-grader Zach loves the canyon near his California home and decides to fight its planned development. He tries sabotage, then political organizing, and finally succeeds through an emotional appeal directly to the developer. He loses his best friend as their tactics and commitment to the project diverge, but he gains friends in the community as well as the respect of his family and the developer for making restitution for the sabotage by selling his valuable baseball-card collection. They end up with a compromise: over half of the planned development will be maintained as a nature preserve and park. The plot is plodding. Part of the problem is that it is weighed down with uninteresting details about daily life that do not move the story along, or let readers get to know (or care about) the characters. Zachary never really comes alive as an interesting, real sixth grader. By the end of the book, readers admire him for making a few tough choices, like standing up for his principles even when it costs him his best friend, but he still seems like a cardboard cutout. For a successful campaign and characters that spark interest, stick with Andrew Clements's Frindle (S & S, 1996).
Laurie von Mehren, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0060294965