Secret City, U. S. A.

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When 13-year-old Benno and his friend Moon wander out of the barrio and into a deserted strip of the city, they find a huge ``stet cap? ec Space'' to explore. The boys clean up a dilapidated house and make it into a shelter for a few of the neighborhood's homeless children. Then a mix-up with the police and a drug gang capture the attention of the media. The boys become a cause c el ebre , paving the way--almost miraculously--for city ordinances that allow homeless people to homestead deserted spaces. Though deeply felt and full of solid characterization, this novel is not as strong as Holman's Slake's Limbo. Perhaps because of the constant phonetic spelling-out of the children's accents, or the overly facile solutions to their problems, the final effect, when all the boys have a real home, seems unsatisfying, as if the ``real world'' and real solutions weren't enough. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-- Benno and his friend Moon, who live in a crowded inner-city neighborhood, discover Secret City, U. S. A. when they wander into a deserted, mostly razed area of the city. For these boys, the empty neighborhood and the almost intact house they find within it are the frontier, providing all of the space and freedom of the 19th-century West. As in that earlier frontier, their discovery represents a way to start over, to do better. Benno and Moon mark a trail through the refuse, clean up the abandoned house, and begin to invite homeless boys to share in its shelter. Soon the house becomes a haven . The story is reminiscent of the busy idealism of earlier survival stories, as the boys repair their new home, plant a garden, forage for food, and protect one another until the harsh realities of inner-city life threaten their home. As in Sharon Bell Mathis' The Sidewalk Story (Penguin, 1986), the power of the press saves the day, resulting in an unrealistically happy but hugely satisfying ending. Holman effectively uses images of the wilderness to show the strangulating hold the city can have on its poor residents and, through strong characterization, makes the horrifying childhoods of poor and homeless children come alive. While the present tense recounting and the use of several dialects may impede some readers, Benno and Moon's vision of a better world and the careful steps they take to try to create it will captivate those readers who enjoy survival stories. --Barbara Chatton, College of Education, Univ . of Wyoming, Laramie
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689717550
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 10/31/1993
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2001


    It is a very good book. For one reason it is about the little people doing something good with something horrible. It gives you a lot of backround in the biginning. And there are very many conflicts which the kids overcome.

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