"Kerry Hart is going through emotional problems in his life."
So begins high school freshman Tracy Nicken's critique of R.L. Stein's young adult novel, "Blind Date," in a recent issue of Dog Ear Press, a student book-review newsletter published at Western High School in Anaheim.
The four-page newsletter, produced three times during the school year, features half a dozen student-written book reviews, in addition to student drawings and poems and a list of recent book additions to the library.
The newsletter is part of the Young Adult Reading Co-Op, a state and federally funded program that provides the full-time services of a public librarian to Western High School for 1 year to make the students and staff more aware of current young-adult literature.
"Our goal is to make lifelong readers of the Western High School students," said Michael Moran, a librarian at Haskett Reading Center, who is working at Western this year. His duties include presenting classroom book talks, conducting workshops on current young-adult literature for teachers and librarians, and creating a basic collection list of young-adult literature for school or public libraries.
Moran, who also serves as editor of Dog Ear Press, said the book reviews are selected from those written as English class assignments.
The newsletter press run of 2,000 copies is distributed to all students at Western High, all branches of the Anaheim Public Library and all other high schools in the Anaheim Union High School District.
"There are a lot of reviews done by librarians and by professional book reviewers, but we're hoping when the students are recommending the books to other students that the review will carry more weight," Moran said.
The combination of Moran's classroom book talks, the Dog Ear Press and Western High Principal Craig Haugen's institution of a 15-minute reading period every day has had an impact at Western: According to Moran, roughly six times as many fiction books were circulated in the school library in January compared to a year ago; by March, nine times as many books were checked out by students.
HISTORY BOOK: It's not a best seller, but the Yorba Linda Public Library's children's book, "Yorba Legacy: A Child's History of Yorba Linda," is moving well.
About 200 copies of the 48-page, large-format paperback ($4) have been sold since "Yorba Legacy" was published in March--and that's not bad for a local publication, librarian assistant Wilda Kovich says.
"We've had lots of enthusiastic response from the schools," said Kovich, who served as the book's editor. "Interestingly enough, we wrote the book for children. However, we've had a lot of older people interested in it. They've liked the format. It has a lot of illustrations, so it's appealing to all ages."
"Yorba Legacy" was written by library staff members Mary Ruth Erickson, James Granitto and Shakunthala S. Rajan as part of the Orange County Centennial and the library's 75th anniversary.
The book spans the city's early Indian era--through the influence of the Yorba land-grant family in the 1800s--to the present, including the building of the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library next to his birthplace.
Two thousand copies of "Yorba Legacy" were printed. The book may be purchased at the library. For more information, call (714) 777-2873.
BOOK SIGNINGS: Michael Collins ("Castrato") will sign at three Waldenbooks locations on Saturday: from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Mission Viejo Mall, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Laguna Hills Mall and at 5 p.m. at Waldenbooks, 665 N. Tustin Ave., Orange . . . Jay Gummerman will sign his collection of short stories, "We Find Ourselves in Moontown," and Maxine Hong Kingston will read from "Tripmaster Monkey" from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the UC Irvine Bookstore.
WRITING GAME: Author Diana Whitney ("Cast a Tall Shadow") will discuss "Breaking into the Writing Game" at noon Monday at the Newport Beach Public Library, 856 San Clemente Drive. There is no admission.
NEW SERIES: Rizzolli International Bookstore in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa will open a series of "Evenings With Authors" beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Maxine Hong Kingston ("The Woman Warrior" and "China Men") will read from her new novel, "Tripmaster Monkey," and Jay Gummerman will read from his short-story collection, "We Find Ourselves in Moontown." The evening will be moderated by Allene Symons, former senior editor of Publishers Weekly.