Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Hobbs, Will
New York : Morrow Junior Books, 1998
IL 5-8  RL 4.2
ISBN 0688150926

(2 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Rick's name was on the cigarettes.  Everyone knew what that meant.  One of the guards was offering two or three kids - 17 year olds probably - a pack of cigarettes each to beat him to within an inch of his life.  He'd have to run - and the sooner the better.

Rick's life had not been easy.  He was only 14 but had lived in 6 different foster homes in the last 4 years and never knew his parents.  He hated the word orphan but that's what he was.  And now he has escaped from Nevada's Blue Canyon Youth Detention Center and feels like he's in the middle of nowhere.  In a way he is!

Rick hitches rides in the back of trucks and steals enough food to survive.  He stumbles into the remote camp of a bird biologist who is releasing fledgling California condors back into the wild.  He discovers there are two men who want to get rid of the biologist and his birds and Rick may be the only one who can stop them.

Rick is in the middle of The Maze - part of Canyonlands National Park in Utah - and his life feels like a maze too.  He has to find a way out so he can get a new start.

I've considered using an empty pack of cigarettes as a prop but think focusing on the Condor might be more positive.  A picture, telling the wing span - 9 feet from wing tip to wing tip - or talking about hang gliding which also plays a part in this exciting story. ("Sallly Kintner" <> )

Booktalk #2

                             The condors are the largest flying land birds still in existence.  The huge soaring scavengers once lived across North America but are now almost extinct.  Scientists are fighting to keep this species alive.  In Maze by Will Hobbs, fourteen-year-old Rick works with the Condor Project.  How did he get this opportunity?  That within itself is another story.
                    Rick Walker had a hard life.  His parents did not want him.  He was abandoned as a small child.  The one person Rick loved in his life, his grandmother, has recently passed away.  He has just been sent to the Blue Canyon State Detention Center for destruction of property.  To make things worse, he has been targeted by some of the older boys and his life is now in danger.
                    Rick knows he must escape.   When Rick runs and hides in the Canyonlands National Park in Utah, he meets a person who will change his life forever.  Lon Peregrino is rough around the edges ­ a real loner.  His life’s work is to save the condors.  Rick, too, soon finds himself fighting for the birds’ survival.  Lon tells Rick, “We’ll never turn out cookie cutter normal, my friend, but we’ve got character.  We’re survivors, like those condors.  Tough as condors, too!”  (page 133)
                    Rick doesn't feel so tough when he finds out there are poachers on the land ­ men who are making homemade bombs.  When he stumbles across their hiding place, Rick finds himself being pursued by the men and their vicious pit bull.  He finds himself running again ­ this time to the edge of a cliff.  Rick, like the condor, will be fighting for his life.  (Stacy Holcombe Symborski,, D.R. Middle School Media Specialist/USC MLIS intern)

SUBJECTS:     Runaways --  Fiction
                        Foster home care -- Fiction
                        Condors -- Fiction
                        Endangered species -- Fiction
                        Wildlife conservation -- Fiction
                        Canyonlands National Park (Utah) -- Fiction


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