cover image On Our Way to the Barn

On Our Way to the Barn

Harriet Ziefert, Paul Zindel. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (12pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026877-0

Zindel's novel is a paean to teachers (the extraordinary ones) and to Manhattan. Its protagonists, Zelda and Henry, each have a rich store of enthusiasms and views, but most of these diverge. For instance, ``Zelda is worried about the regular death that happens when you grow too old,'' according to Henry, while Henry himself looks out for falling objects, such as air conditioners. Yet they're united in tracing their favorite high school teacher, the exuberant Miss Applebaum, to her apartment. This generous woman is dying of cancer and happy to share her remaining, sometimes madcap, weeks with them, racing through museums and Central Park. While much of Miss Applebaum's charm must be taken on faith--she never seems quite real--readers will accept that ordinary experience grows larger for Henry and Zelda when they are with her. Her inspirational effect on these two bright and somewhat isolated characters is touching. A Charlotte Zolotow Book. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)