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From The CriticsLoiterers, punks—these are the names hurled at the 15-year-old boys in Zee's gang by the merchants of Fairhaven Shopping Center. Unfair, discriminatory—retaliate the boys. A "war" is on, and Zee thinks he has the way to get the upper hand—paint graffiti on the wall of Feniuk's Hardware. Graffiti is Zee's statement of protest, to make the merchants aware they can't push the boys around. They want to enjoy the shopping center too. This was their place to roller blade and hang out before the strip mall was built. Zee's plan backfires. When Feniuk paints over the graffiti but keeps the picture Zee drew, he loses control of his art. Then when Feniuk catches him and makes him work to pay off his debt for the vandalism, Zee finds himself wanting to prove he is a real artist. In the process both sides begin to understand and respect each other. This novel, an easy-read for middle-grade students, explores the intergenerational conflict that often plagues relations between younger and older adults. In the end, both sides get beyond stereotypes and gain a bit of understanding—an important lesson in our conflictridden world. 2004, Orca Book, 104 pp., Ages young adult.
—Jeanne M. McGlinn