Blume's introduction, explaining her battles with would-be censors and the risks taken by librarians and teachers who stand by books that arouse an outcry, may be the most involving element of this collection of 12 short stories by acclaimed authors. Julius Lester's protagonist risks his popularity by befriending the only white girl in his English class. Susan Beth Pfeffer shows how a girl's loyalty and morality are challenged when her father asks her to steal money from his ex-wife's secret cache. Paul Zindel conjures revenge against a high school cheerleader in a tale almost as gruesome as Stephen King's Carrie. Also included are works by Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers, Rachel VailAeven the late Norma Klein (with a story originally published in a Barnard literary journal in 1959). In putting together this collection, Blume constructs a platform for writers to speak freely and honestly, not only through their fiction but with brief essays on censorship. Few of these stories represent the very best work of the contributors, but their commitment to their audience shines through, and readers will likely be inspired to seek out their other titles. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) FYI: All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the National Coalition Against Censorship.
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