Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Peer Pressure Cooker

“Hold the Pickles”
By Vicki Grant
ISBN No. 978-1-55469-920-9

“Maxed Out”
By Daphne Greer
ISBN No. 978-1-55469-981-0

Both available at

In “Hold the Pickles”; an embarrassed Dan dresses as a hot dog at the fair to earn money to hire a personal trainer to pump up his physique and self-esteem. In “Maxed Out”, the Max of the title is all things to the needy people in his life: a responsible son and brother (his dad recently died and his brother has special needs), and a promising hockey player who’s stoked about the requisite “big game.” You’d think by now – with the evolution of peer pressure into social networking - that the Dans and Maxes of the world wouldn’t need any more lectures (that everybody has an agenda, crime doesn’t pay, out of the frying pan and into the fire) but there’s always room for one more, told a little differently by different people – at least in the world of YouthLit. Namely that everybody has an agenda; crime doesn’t pay; out of the frying pan and into the fire. The Dan and Max of these two stories learn all those lessons, and while it should read like an old person wagging a finger at you, these books still work on a dramatic and emotional level (“Hold the Pickles” has nuance fit for a film script; “Maxed Out” asks if someone is going to be the “puck getter”). And the larger lesson of these two books? That even the familiar can seem fresh and inventive when it’s done with sincere interest in the reader.