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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Another one of those journalism-based adolescent action books.

Winerip, Michael (2005) Adam Canfield of the Slash.  New York:  Scholastic.

Based on the title,  I honestly thought this book was going to be about a kid who was part of a rock band.  It isn't.  Adam Canfield is a typical over-committed middle school student who has somehow found himself as the co-editor of the school paper.  Actually, Adam loves reporting and he sort of gets along with his co-editor Jennifer.  But Jennifer is more of an organized, detail-oriented editor, and Adam is really a reporter who is interested in editing.  When a third-grader named Phoebe stumbles into a story that points toward corruption in and beyond their school, Adam and Jennifer find themselves having to learn to tiptoe very carefully around what they have found and what they can publish without getting in trouble.

There are three things I like about this book.  First, it is a gripping story that keeps the pages turning -- partly because the main characters seem always to be one misstep from disaster.  Second, the only way the book can work is that the characters are authentic and likable.  Adam is a good kid, but he is always running late and missing deadlines, usually through no fault of his own.  Jennifer is much more put together, and the two of them are a good team -- working together to figure things out. Phoebe is a nice addition to the mix.  She is earnest and dedicated but also insecure and nervous.  And though Adam finds her annoying at first, she eventually wins his grudging respect. Finally, I love that this is a book about kid journalists.  Language arts teachers will like the way the book reinforces the value of writing. 

There aren't a lot of deep themes here, but it is a fun book, and middle school kids will like it.

(Oh, and I should mention, there is exactly one vulgar word in the book.  It starts with A.  If you are teaching in a particularly sensitive school, you might want to know that.

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