cover image FACE


Benjamin Zephaniah, Author . Bloomsbury $15.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-58234-774-5

Zephaniah (Refugee Boy) paints a sympathetic portrait of Martin Turner, a burn victim, who changes as much on the inside as on the outside after a car accident leaves his face severely disfigured. The author uses bold lines to describe how the once fun-loving wise-cracker confronts the fact that his life can never be the same. Even more disturbing than the stares and cruel taunts, perhaps, are his friends' obvious discomfort and overly solicitous behavior ("He hated being pitied and he hated being given special treatment. He learnt how to look into the eyes of others and measure their sincerity"). Martin also resents those (like the priest at the community center) who refer to him as "disabled"; however, he develops the confidence and poise to correct such misapprehensions. Newfound friends who are able to look beyond his scars encourage him to rise to challenges and develop his talent for dancing and gymnastics. Although the plot is somewhat formulaic and although Zephaniah discusses many of Martin's struggles rather than offering specific examples, Martin himself is believable enough to be appealing. Kids will tune in to this book's clear message about appearances. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)