After I put down Cinder Rabbit, an adorable Early Reader book, and picked up Lynn E. Hazen’s first young adult novel, Shifty, I had a bit of a jolt. I’m always impressed with authors who have a broad range, and these two works of Ms. Hazen’s left me wanting more.
by Lyn E. Hazen (author), Elyse Pastel (Illustrator)
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 64 Pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Cinder Rabbit, the story of a young bunny named Zoe who has lost her ability to hop, is incredibly sweet and charming. At Grand Rabbits school, Zoe is the star of the spring play–and will be leading her entire class in the Bunny Hop at the end of it. There is just one problem–Winnifred laughs at her, and now she has lost her ability to hop! Opening night comes around, and Zoe still has stage fright–will she be able to hop?
I loved the story for two reasons: the character development and the humor. It also deals delicately with the topic of teasing, and the story has a sweet ending. Zoe and her friends are spunky and fun, and one can’t help but laugh at Charlie, the character, who is tapped to be Prince Charming but would rather be a truck driver.
by Lyn E. Hazen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 188 Pages
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Shifty feels like it could be written by a completely different author. The story of fifteen-year-old Soli, a foster child with a penchant for getting into trouble, is heart-wrenching and engaging. Without trying to, Soli (also known as “Shifty”) often winds up in sticky situations–sometimes dragging his foster mother, Martha, or seven-year-old Sissy along with him. This book is definitely for young adults–I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than thirteen, as it has references to “offscreen” drug use and physical violence.
Shifty is wonderful as a coming-of-age novel: Soli vacillates between accepting the stigma of being a “shifty” kid that has been attached to him for being in the foster system, and taking steps to grow into a responsible adult. He learns that doing what is right sometimes goes against the rules, and his inner search to come into his own as a person parallels that of his desire to have a home, with people who he can call family. Set in San Francisco, his story can’t help but warm your heart–as it carries the message that sometimes you have to look past labels and appearances to see the good in people.
Ms. Hazen also uses her book to tout the cause of foster children, providing information on organizations dedicated to helping these youth. Here are some of their websites:
CASA: Court appointed Special Advocates For Children
A Home Within: Building continuous connections for foster youth.
Bonus Links: www.cinderrabbit.com
Author Interview by Cynsations.