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
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
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" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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!”
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, email@example.com,
D.R. Middle School Media Specialist/USC MLIS intern)