Ben Mikaelsen won the International Reading Association Award, the Western Writers of America Spur Award, and many state Reader's Choice awards. Ben and his wife, Melanie, live in a log cabin near Bozeman, Montana, with a 700-pound black bear they have adopted and raised for the last seventeen years.
Gr 5-8-In Ben Mikaelsen's novel (HarperCollins, 2001), Cole Matthews is a teenager who has always been in trouble, and has had so many "last chances" that he figures he knows how to work the juvenile justice system. When he severely beats another boy, however, his probation officer suggests that he try something called "Circle Justice," a Native American tradition that attempts to heal the victim, the offender, and the community. The Circle decides that Cole should be banished for a year to an island off the coast of Alaska. He goes along because the alternative is jail, and because he figures he can get off the island after all, he's a strong swimmer. Cole is an angry teen who blames everyone else for his troubles his alcoholic parents, his wimpy victim, the "system." Alone on the island, he promptly burns his shelter and supplies. He is mauled by a large white "spirit bear," and nearly dies before he is rescued. This experience, and the subsequent six-month hospitalization, cause a turnaround in Cole's life. The only trouble is, can he convince everyone else that he has really changed and isn't still just trying to work the system? Lee Tergesen brings just the right tone to Cole's voice an angry kid who is trying to figure things out, but still sometimes loses control. This is an excellent recording of a novel that will appeal both to fans of adventure tales and to those who like problem novels.-Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, Morgan Hill, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.