Sample Book Ideas for Literature-Based Reading Enthusiasts
From the 1993 edition of:
The Handbook for the Young Reader's Choice Award
sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Library Association.
for more information contact
Gale Sherman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bette Ammon: email@example.com
The 1993 Young Reader's Choice Award Winner (Grade 9-12):
The Face on the Milk Carton
by Caroline B. Cooney
|PUBLICATION DETAILS: ||Cloth: 192 pages 1990. $14.95 (ISBN 0-553-05853-3). Bantam. Paper: 184p. 1990. $3.50 (ISBN 0-553-28958-6). Bantam.|
|GENRES: ||Contemporary realistic fiction, mystery|
|THEMES: ||Kidnapping, self esteem, boy-girl relationships, honesty, friendship, families, cults, school life|
|READABILITY: ||Sixth grade|
|INTEREST LEVEL: ||Seventh through twelfth grade|
"There's a good bit of melodrama in the plot (a cult-influenced mother and a
pair of nervous grandparents hiding from the Hare Krishna), as well as a sort
of half-baked romance. But Cooney does not give into facile resolutions, and
her depiction of Jane's personal quandary, while not rendered with depth, seems
real enough as it follows the girl's struggle to make sense of what's happened
and to balance her feelings for the couple she knows as her parents with her
curiosity about the family to which she once belonged." Booklist
86(12):1154 Feb 15 '90. Stephanie Zvirin.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 43(6):133 Feb '90. Roger
"Many young people fantasize about having been adopted or even kidnapped, but
the decisions Janie must face are painful and complex, and she experiences
denial, anger, and guilt while sorting her way toward a solution. Janie's
boyfriend--sensible, funny, with problems of his own--is an excellent foil for
her intensity. Their romance is natural and believable. Cooney again
demonstrates an excellent ear for dialogue and a gift for protraying
responsible middle-class teenagers trying to come to terms with very real
concerns. School Library Journal 36(2):109 Feb '90. Tatiana Castleton.
"The Face on the Milk Carton is sure to be selected one of the best
books for young adults for 1990. If it is not, then the committee should take a
second look. I could not put it down....Cooney does a beautiful job of writing
and most readers will do as I did and read the book in one sitting. The story
is a heartwarming one and will have some teenagers questioning their
identities." Voice of Youth Advocates 12(6):341 Feb '90. Geraldine
Harris. (Rating: #5-quality, #5-popularity)
AWARDS AND NOTABLE LISTS
- American Library Association "Recommended Books for the Reluctant Young Adult Reader"
- International Reading Association "Children's Choices"
Caroline B. Cooney born and bred in Connecticut and still lives there in a
small town. She began writing mysteries in college because that was her genre
of choice to read. Since she was first published at age 30, Cooney has written
numerous books for children and young adults, including a television movie
adaptation of her book Rear View Mirror. She writes romances also because she
believes "that to love and to be loved are the most fierce desires any of us
will ever have." Cooney has two daughters and one son. She likes talking long
walks on the beach, playing piano for school music programs, embroidery, and
Janie Johnson thinks her life is fine (except her name is boring) until she
sees a milk carton picture of three-year-old missing child. Suddenly Janie's
life becomes confused as she has flashbacks of her early childhood. She does
some investigating at home and finds a locked trunk labeled with the name
Hannah and the polka dot dress the child on the milk carton is wearing. Janie
is haunted by unanswered questions: Are her parents really her parents?
Who is Hannah? Does she have another family somewhere else?
This compelling, fast read will be devoured by romance readers and mystery
lovers alike. Both the subject and the writing style rapidly carry the reader
forward. You won't have to read this aloud - booktalk it to hook potential
Janie saw a Face on a Milk Carton. She recognized it as her own
three-year-old self - but how could that be possible - that would mean she had
been kidnapped twelve years ago.
Inside, her mind spun. It was like having a color wheel for a
brain. When it slowed down, things were separate, like primary colors: I
have a mother and a father...I have a childhood...I was not
kidnapped...kidnapping means bad people...I don't know any bad
people...therefore I am making this up. But when her mind speeded up, the
colors blended dizzily. That is me on there. I, Janie Johnson; I was
kidnapped. But it could not be. The facts did not compute. She tried to
climb outside her mind and go where her body was: sitting neatly at a desk,
neatly taking notes. It was like crawling on glass. No matter how firmly she
resolved not to think such stupid things, she thought them. She slithered
backward into her mind. Perhaps it's insanity...(pages 13-14, paperback
edition)Is Janie insane? Is the face on the milk carton really her?
Too many questions and not enough answers. Janie has reason to believe that her
parents might have kidnapped her - stolen her away from her real family when
she was three years old. The time is right for a confrontation with her mother.
I will go mad if I don't find out, [Janie] thought. If I'm not
already mad. Still dripping from the rain, clinging to her book bag, Janie
said, "I want to know why there aren't any photographs of me until I'm five.
Even if you didn't buy a camera until then, you would have had a baby portrait
done. I want to know who Hannah is upstairs in the trunk. I want to know why
you won't let me see my birth certificate." (page 79, paperback
edition)Janie's question are all answered in The Face on the
Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney.
Janie's mother urges her to seek professional counseling to deal with the new
discoveries concerning their family. Many teens may need help at one time or
another as they cope with stress, relationships, peer pressure, school, etc.
Make available some self-help books such as Sarah Gilbert's Get Help Solving
the Problems in Your Life (Morrow Jr. Books, 1989), Teenage Survival
Manual: How To Reach 20 in One Piece (and enjoy every step of the journey)
by H. Samm Coombs (Discovery, 1989), and/or You'll Survive by Fred
Powledge (Scribner, 1986).
Janie is able to locate newspaper articles about her kidnapping by referring to
the New York Times Index and then she finds the actual articles on microfilm.
Have students choose a date or an event and use local or national newspaper
indexes to retrieve information.
The issue of missing children is continually addressed in the media. Newspaper
and magazine articles abound and television programs frequently focus on
missing or kidnapped children. Featuring photographs on milk cartons is one
method of trying to locate some of these children. Using periodical indexes and
other resources, students can research this social problem. How many children
are missing each year? How many are located? What are the circumstances
surrounding these various events? Organizations such as Child Find of America,
Box 277, New Paltz, NY 12561 (800) 431-5005 and Find the Children, 11811 West
Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064 (213) 477-6721 serve as contact points
to reunite parents and children.
IF YOU LOVED THIS, YOU'LL LIKE...
- Corcoran, Barbara. Family Secrets
- Covington, Vicki. Gathering Home
- Ehrlich, Amy. Where it Stops, Nobody Knows
- Lowry, Lois. Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye
- Maguire, Jesse. Starting Over
- Martin, Ann M. Missing Since Monday
- Mazer, Norma Fox. Taking Terri Muller
- Moulton, Deborah. Summer Girl
- Myers, Walter Dean. Somewhere in the Darkness
- Okimoto, Jean Davies. Molly By Any Other Name
- Pfeffer, Susan Beth. The Year Without Michael
- Pullman, Philip. The Broken Bridge
- Schwandt, Stephen. The Last Goodie
SOME OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR
| Young Reader's Choice Awards | More Sample Book Ideas |
- Among Friends
- Camp Girl-Meets-Boy
- Camp Reunion
- Don't Blame the Music
- Family Reunion
- Flight #116 is Down
- The Girl Who Invented Romance
Copyright © 1992 by Gale Sherman & Bette Ammon. All right reserved.
Converted to HTML with permission, by David K. Brown for the Children's Literature Web Guide