The Wall on 7th Street
by Diane Martineau
Toby Maxwell is having a tough summer.
His parents just divorced and his mom has moved with Toby and his
sister to a dinky apartment in the world's most crabby neighborhood.
To make matters worse, Toby quickly runs afoul of a gang of bullies
who hit first and ask questions never. When they aren't terrorizing
the place, they're working on a huge hideous mural depicting all manner
of evil. Then Toby's one new friend, a street-person named Moe, tells
him that the gang is working a kind of magic through that mural. Although
many of the trappings of the story - recent divorce, bullying, the
nobility of the socially adrift - are pretty common, author Diane
Martineau does a nice job of weaving them together into a satisfying
story. The novel catches our attention right from the beginning and
holds us throughout so well that we even forgive her for the cliché
of the dad who tends to forget his kids in the glow of a new romance.
I'm sure kids will also love the whole idea of a mural that magically
enhances your artistic ability and changes the world around you -
it's a kind of teen version of Harold and the Purple Crayon
and every bit as compelling. I enjoyed the book tremendously.
Reviewer Jan Fields is the editor of Kid Magazine Writers
emagazine and has written dozens of stories and articles for
the children's magazine market.