Synopses & Reviews
Elisha Cooper spent a year hanging out at a Chicago high school listening, watching, questioning, and sketching the students. He followed eight kids in particular, mostly seniors, through their entire year, and by telling their specific storiesof classes, extra-curriculars, friends, romances, and familyhe gives us a more general picture of what its like to be a high school student today. Part documentary, part soap opera, part sketchbook, this is an eye-opening, thoroughly entertaining accountone that will appeal equally to readers who are looking forward to high school and those who are looking back.
"Cooper, known for his savvy picture books (Beach; A Good Night Walk) and his parenting memoir, Crawling, trains his sights on teens with this perceptive documentary account of an academic year at Walter Payton High, a magnet school in Chicago (a few references locate the year as 2005 2006). Focusing primarily on seniors, he intersperses scenes about Emily, the straight-A soccer captain 'who walks through the halls as if she were knocking people out of the way'; Maya, the intense actor who has a 'small-town affect' and 'could play the role of The Good Student'; Daniel, the overachieving class president whose role model is Barack Obama; Anais, the dedicated ballet dancer; Diana, the swimmer with a brother in jail; Anthony, obsessed with an ex-girlfriend and permanently ensconced in the cafeteria; Aisha, the only Muslim on campus; and Zef, the failing, caffeine-addicted insomniac. The school milieu is sharply and wittily evoked in deadpan transcriptions of anonymous conversations and descriptions of ordinary events like a basketball game (after it ends, the freshman who misses a key shot 'jogs over to the basket and jumps into the air... placing the imaginary ball into its rightful place'). Readers looking for a story, however, may be disappointed; the considerable strengths of the work come from Cooper's genius for observation and confident refusal to dramatize what he finds. Illustrated throughout with small sketches; final art not seen by PW. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Elisha Cooper is the author of the acclaimed memoir Crawling: A Fathers First Year, the sketchbook A Year in New Dance! among many other illustrated books. He lives in New York City.