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On the White Ravens' Outstanding New International Books for Children and Young Adults list, 2008

ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards finalist (YA Fiction ...

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On the White Ravens' Outstanding New International Books for Children and Young Adults list, 2008

ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards finalist (YA Fiction category), 2007

Snow Willow Award nominee, 2008

Two bestselling authors join forces to write a powerful novel about racism.

A student arrested on suspicions of terrorism. A high school torn apart by racism. Two boys from two different sets of circumstances forced to choose sides.

These are the issues at the heart of Bifocal, a groundbreaking new novel for young-adults.

The story is told from two different points of view. Haroon is a serious student devoted to his family. His grandparents emigrated from Afghanistan. Jay is a football star devoted to his team. He is white.

One day their high school is put on lockdown, and the police arrest a Muslim student on suspicion of terrorist affiliations. He might be guilty. Or is he singled out because of his race?

The entire student body fragments along racial lines and both Haroon and Jay find that their differences initially put them at odds. The Muslim students become targets and a smoke-bomb is set off near their lockers while Jay and his teammates believe they've been set-up to look like racists.

Bifocal is, by no stretch, an easy book. Award-winning authors Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters deliver a serious, hard-hitting book about racism that does not talk down to young people.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, November 2007: Ellis and Walters are familiar writers of YA stories and they successfully create a dramatic high school situation that brings current issues to the forefront. There are two narrators: Jay, a white boy, new to the school, who plays on the football team; and Haroon, a brilliant Muslim student. There is a terrorist scare on their high school campus and immediately all Muslim students are suspect. Even Haroon is leery about one of his Muslim classmates. Kevin, the captain of the football team, is a bully who uses his natural leadership abilities to hold power over others. Jay is susceptible to Kevin's lure, of course, and gets himself into a moral dilemma all his own. High school dynamics meld with white suspicion of brown people and immigrants in a suspenseful story that offers many opportunities for YA readers to consider their own attitudes about "others," and about police harassment. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal

Gr 8-10- Jay and Haroon are caught up in parallel plots that begin when police initiate a school lockdown and arrest a Muslim student under suspicion of terrorist links. Tensions are sparked in the racially divided high school where "brown" students congregate in "Brown Town." Jay, a newcomer, is a football jock. Haroon provides contrast as a nerdish academic-quiz-team member, but he has come under police suspicion for being Muslim after another Muslim student says he understands why terrorists behave as they do. Further conflict leads to the vandalizing of Brown Town. On Halloween, the captain leads some footballers to vandalize houses, including Haroon's. Both boys struggle to understand people and events around them and must rise above the mistrust created by 9/11 to make powerful choices. Jay finally stands up to his bigoted team captain and Haroon overcomes his fear. The authors' intentions are noble as they bravely plot the course of two strangers becoming less strange. The climax is moving. Regrettably the story is peppered with dialogue and actions that are inaccurate of Muslims. Consequently the book unintentionally contributes to the continuation and reinforcement of stereotypes, which limits its usefulness.-Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Oberlin Public Library, OH

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554550364
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/18/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

DEBORAH ELLIS is an anti-war and women's rights activist who works as a mental health counselor at Margaret Frazer House in Toronto. She has published a novel for children, Looking For X.

Eric Walters is one of Canadaas most successful writers and prolific writers for teenagers. His novel Shattered recently won the 2007 National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Award and the 2007 White Pine Award. A former teacher, Eric visits classrooms across the country and he has already spoken to more than 750,000 students.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    The reality of racism.

    Bifocal, one of the most unique, realistic fictional stories I¿ve read in a while, was written by Eric Walters and Deborah Ellis. I thought the plot was different, but in a good way. It was easy to read, yet hard to put down. <BR/>Most of the events that occur in the story happen at a middle school in a small town, in America. The main character Haroon is accused of being involved in a terrorist group. When the cops realized they can¿t take him in without evidence, they take his friend, who apparently they did have evidence against, instead of Haroon. When Haroon is returned to school he has to face discrimination from his fellow peers, because of the color of his skin. Haroon learns that no one would treat him normally, so he came up with two options: he¿d ignore it all, and wait until everything died down or follow his twin sister¿s footsteps and stand up for his citizenship. He soon meets Jay, an audacious, rising star in their school¿s football team. Jay knows he needs to help Haroon but can he get over the racial dividers in their school? The story switches off between Haroon¿s points of views to Jay¿s. It was not exactly easy or hard to read regarding the vocabulary. The author also includes references to Afghan heritage.<BR/>I recommend this book to anyone who is confused about racism or doesn¿t understand the reality of discrimination against different colors of skin. This book might even be swell to relate to.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    woop dee doo

    this was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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