WALTER DEAN MYERS's fiction and nonfiction has reached millions of young people. A prolific author of more than one hundred books, he received every major award in the field of children's literature. He wrote two Newbery Honor Books, eleven Coretta Scott King Award winners, and three National Book Award Finalists and was named the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. He also received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults and was the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was a 2010 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Award numerous times. From 2012 to 2013, he served as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature with the platform "Reading is not optional." In his most beloved books, Walter explored the themes of taking responsibility for your life and knowing that everyone always gets a second chance.
Myers's ( Brown Angels ; Scorpions ) lively and uplifting novel focuses on a struggling middle-school student who finds a way to turn his life around. In a last-ditch attempt to prevent the principal from calling his parents (``and maybe even suggesting they try another school for you''), Darnell Rock joins the school paper. He is skeptical about his first assignments, but then he finds an interviewee he can get excited about--Sweeby Jones, a local homeless man whom Darnell's father knew in Vietnam. When Darnell writes an editorial to suggest that the school turn a parking lot into a garden so that homeless people can grow food there, he attracts the attention of the local press and, ultimately, spurs a debate in the city council (the proposal is defeated, but another garden is established). Darnell's language and internal thoughts are wonderfully colloquial, and his rapport with twin sister Tamika is right on target. Myers also effectively weaves in a parallel between Darnell's efforts to understand Sweeby's homelessness and his own efforts in English class to understand The Old Man and the Sea . An optimistic--and realistic--portrayal of a boy learning to live by his convictions. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
Gr 5-8-Darnell Rock, 13, has always taken a lackadaisical attitude toward school and is a fringe member of the Corner Crew, South Oakdale Middle School's semi-deviant clique. Although they are quite close, he and his twin sister, Tamika, engage in nonstop verbal one-upmanship. Things begin to change for Darnell after he joins, on a whim, the staff of the school newspaper. He has a chance encounter with a homeless man and ends up writing an article that advocates turning over a piece of school property to the homeless so that they can grow vegetables there. This proposal fosters debate within the school and, after the city's daily paper picks up the story, the whole community. This experience helps Darnell grow, and he begins to look at the world around him in a different way. Once again, Myers presents a well-written story with a realistic ending and adeptly brings to life the major players-Darnell, his friends, and his middle-class African-American family. Young readers will be interested in and able to relate to these characters. While this book might not be the author's best, it's still on target.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI
"This is an energetic read, unintimidating but thoughtful, that many Darnell-age kids in search of self will find rewarding."--The Bulletin