Zebra and Other Stories

Chaim Potok, Author Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $18 (128p) ISBN 978-0-679-85440-1
Potok (The Chosen) turns out an uneven collection of six stories, each featuring a teenager in transition. Their predicaments, for the most part, are inventive and resonant: B.B.'s mother is at the hospital in labor when B.B.'s father leaves the cataclysmic message that he is walking out; Nava learns from her Vietnam-vet dad how to defend herself against a particularly aggressive drug pusher; Isabel's newly widowed mother meets and marries a widower with a daughter near Isabel's age. The title story, which opens the book, is the exception: predictable and flimsily peopled, it describes a gravely injured boy's psychic healing through an art class. The other entries allow for more ambiguity, leaving small lacunae in the narratives for intelligent readers to fill in. The characterizations, unfortunately, tend to be incomplete or unconvincing. Nava, for example, uses expressions like ""about the time... my menstrual blood began to flow""; B.B.'s gender is kept a secret from the reader; drummer Moon Vinten, a rebellious 13-year-old who dyes his ponytail blue, tacks up Beatles photos in his bedroom. Readers who don't mind the somewhat wooden nature of the protagonists will probably enjoy the adult feel of Potok's suggestive silences. Ages 11-16. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 146 pages - 978-0-679-95440-8
Hardcover - 204 pages - 978-0-7862-2978-9
Prebound-Glued - 146 pages - 978-0-606-19830-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-30202-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 160 pages - 978-0-375-80686-5
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