Elijah Raymond was one of four remarkably gifted children gathered together in an experimental group home called the Ark. In their shared dreams he was always the Raven, flying over the other three. But when the Ark program was discontinued, Elijah ran away.In Flight Of The Raven, Elijah has been found by a group of environmental terrorist and taken to their snowy woodland hideout. There he meets Amber, the leaders lonely daughter, who insists that radical change justifies the deaths she calls "necessary losses." Unable to escape, Elijah discovers that he can shift into "dreamtime," joining his consciousness with that of creatures who survive in the unforgiving wintry world. Gradually Elijah learns to survive himself. But how can he truly find a home with these violent men -- and how has Amber?Stephanie S. Tolan follows up her magnificient Welcome To The Ark with the story of EIijah, a boy who is forced to confront the world's cruelty, accept his own mysterious powers -- and help himself and Amber learn to fly free.
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Stephanie S. Tolan's earliest memories involve books -- those that were read to her and those she read to herself, often late at night with a flashlight under the covers. She always thought there was a special magic in the little black marks on paper that could turn into whole worlds and real people. Born in Ohio and raised in Wisconsin, she wrote her first story in the fourth grade. It was thrilling to discover she could make the magic herself, and she decided then and there to be a writer.
Other ambitions came and went, but writing stayed on, and she majored in creative writing at Purdue University, then went on to a Master's Degree in English. Marriage and the sudden addition to her life of three young stepsons, and then a son, forced writing into the nooks and crannies, but she wrote poetry and plays for adults as she taught college English. Her husband's career in professional theatre moved the Tolan family around the country, and writing was a comforting constant. In the mid-seventies, Stephanie began working in the Poets-in-the-Schools program in Pennsylvania. Her first group of students were fourth and fifth graders, and she found among them a new generation of intense readers, still using the flashlight-under-the-covers trick.
"They brought back to me that special reading joy that most adults -- even the readers among us -- have lost, and I wanted to try my hand at writing for those kids, so like myself at their age and yet so different."
The difference, she felt, was less in the children themselves than in the fast-changing world they lived in. Her writing for children and young adults, beginning with Grandpa -- And Me in 1978, has reflected that contemporary world. Tolan's suspense novel A Good Courage looks at the dark side of life in a fictional cult/commune. Plague Year is a harrowing story of hatred, fear and harassment in a small town high school, and the violence eventually spreads into the community. With Who's There? and The Face in the Mirror, Tolan ventures into the spine-tingling realm of the contemporary ghost story. Save Halloween! tells of conflicts faced by Johnna Filkins, daughter of an evangelical Christian minister, when her understanding of democracy collides with her family's wish to impose their beliefs on their hometown. And Ordinary Miracles revisits the Filkins family, this time following Mark, one of the twin future preachers, who meets a Nobel laureate and must find a way to reconcile his faith with the world of contemporary science.
Stephanie Tolan is also well known as an advocate for extremely bright children. She co-authored the award-winning nonfiction book, Guiding the Gifted Child, and has written many articles about the challenges gifted "asynchronous" children and adults face as they find a way to fit into their world. She lectures throughout the country to audiences of parents, educators and counselors attempting to find ways to meet the children's needs. Her experiences with these "amazing, off-the-charts" young people inspired the themes of Welcome to the Ark, a powerful novel about four brilliant young misfits in a world teetering on destruction. The first volume of a projected trilogy, Ark is followed by Flight of the Raven, due out in the fall of 2001.
Mrs. Tolan currently lives on a little lake in a big woods in Charlotte, NC with her husband, one dog, one cat, two fish and plenty of outdoor creatures.From School Library Journal:
Grade 7-10-Amber and her family are forced to flee into the wilderness when her father, the "alpha wolf" of the Free Mountain Militia, orchestrates the largest act of terrorism against the U.S. since the Oklahoma City bombing. Along the way, she is entrusted to care for Elijah, an African-American boy who has run away from a mental institution and been taken hostage by the militia. Elijah, who proved his talents in Tolan's Welcome to the Ark (Morrow, 1996), has the ability to transform his consciousness into objects, animals, and occasionally humans, giving him the talent he needs to be an essential member of the cadre. Amber, while having empathy for him, believes in her father, can rationalize the many "necessary losses" his work creates, and wants to join him in his quest to bring down the system. Ultimately, these plans include the use of a bioweapon to wipe out half the world's population. The world is saved by Elijah's powers, leaving the militia bruised, but not broken. The characters and themes introduced in Welcome to the Ark are so slowly divulged that they're occasionally distracting. Amber and Elijah's actions don't always explain their motivations or understanding of events. The boy's transformation from using his powers to stop violence to assisting in its creation is not fully developed. Characters and ideologies abound and may at once challenge and turn off readers. Some will be disturbed by the remorseless killings that repeatedly occur while others will debate the entire doctrine of the novel, making for a confrontational and thought-provoking read deserving much discussion.
Katie O'Dell, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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