The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College




- Caroline Cooney -

Biographical Information

Award-winning author Caroline B. Cooney knows what young adults like to read. She proves it each time she publishes a book. In fact, Cooney’s all-time favorite fan letter came from a twelve-year old girl who hated reading. She was forced to read one of Cooney’s books, but she admitted that it had not been a waste of time and had even been enjoyable.

Caroline Cooney was born in 1947 and grew up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. She loved school and was involved in many different activities such as playing the piano for musical productions, directing a choir and being a church organist. Cooney has always loved reading, including the series books The Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames. These characters had a big influence on her life.

Cooney graduated from Greenwich High School in 1965 and attended various colleges, where she studied music, art, and English. It was in college that she began writing, and discovered a talent and joy in what would become an award-winning writing career. Cooney professes, "I love writing and do not know why it is considered such a difficult, agonizing profession. I love all of it, thinking up the plots, getting to know the kids in the story, their parents, backyards, pizza toppings."

An accomplished writer, author, and mother of three children, Caroline Cooney shares her knowledge and love of writing on visits to schools, libraries and conferences. She lives in Westbrook, Connecticut.

Book Summaries:

The Face on the Milk Carton

No one really ever paid any attention to the faces of missing children on the milk carton. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar, she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that three-year old girl who had been kidnapped from a shopping mall in New Jersey twelve years before.

As Janie begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really Janie’s parents? If not, who are they? And who is Janie Johnson?

I’m Not Your Other Half

A girl named Fraser begins dating Michael. They do everything together until Fraser starts to realize that if they get too serious, she is going to have to give up some of the things she likes to do in order to make the relationship work. Since she is not prepared to do this, she starts to pull away from Michael.

Tragedy strikes. When a little child Fraser knows sinks into a coma due to a fall down a flight of stairs, Fraser begins to believe that Michael doesn’t care about the things she cares about. What are Michael’s true feelings? Michael and Fraser have much to work out.

Driver’s Ed

Remy Mariland is a sixteen-year old girl who loves to drive. Just one catch -- she doesn’t have her driver’s license. Morgan Campbell is the big man on campus who spends more time watching his date than he does the road. In this story of responsibility, an innocent teen prank results in some deadly consequences. Two high school juniors have to learn the hard way that having a driver’s license means more than freedom -- it means taking responsibility.

Quotes from Reviews:

The Voice on the Radio
"[Cooney] has taken this novel to extraordinary heights." -- Starred, School Library Journal
"Readers of Cooney’s addictive The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie? can start licking their chops. . . .Cooney [has] a special radar for adolescent longings and insecurities. . . ." -- Starred, Publishers Weekly
"A ‘must purchase’. . . . The Voice on the Radio elicits a powerful response in readers and is a real page-turner, so plan to purchase multiple copies to satisfy the demands of your teen readers." -- 5P 5Q, Voice of Youth Advocates

Driver’s Ed
"A wrenching, breathlessly paced plot and an adrenaline-charged romance make Cooney’s latest novel nearly impossible to put down. . . . This modern-day morality tale is as convincing as it is irresistable." -- Starred, Publisher’s Weekly
"Wonderfully written, and very realistic. Reluctant readers as usual will find this author tops." -- VOYA
"A poignant, realistic novel, with nicely drawn characters and a vintage metaphor that’s actually refreshing: A driver’s license. . . . is the ‘ticket’ out of childhood." -- Starred, Booklist


Driver’s Ed
- American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults
- American Library Association Quick Pick for Young Adults
- Booklist Editors’ Choice

Among Friends
- A New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

Twenty Pagants Later
- American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

The Face on the Milk Carton
- American Library Association Recommended Books for the Reluctant Young Adult Reader
- International Reading Association Children’s Choice

Flight #116 is Down
- Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award


Flight #116 is Down Driver’s Ed Among Friends

Twenty Pageants Later Both Sides of Time Out of Time

The Face on the Milk Carton Whatever Happened to Janie? The Voice on the Radio

Emergency Room The Stranger Twins

Camp Girl-Meets-Boy Don’t Blame the Music Family Reunion

Camp Reunion The Girl Who Invented Romance The Return of the Vampire

The Vampire’s Promise Where the Deer Are Freeze Tag

The Cheerleader Safe as the Group Flash Fire

Unifying Elements

When we first decided to research Caroline B. Cooney’s novels, we were aware of a few them, namely The Face on the Milk Carton and its sequels and Flight #116 is Down. Upon further investigation, we were astonished at the number of novels that she has produced. It is no wonder many biographers call her a prolific writer. We were ready to discuss how she has a real understanding of the lives of teenagers. After reviewing several of her other books, we found that this is still the case. She has a knack for dealing with human issues through the eyes of teenagers with extreme accuracy. Her characters are far from stereotypical and her dialogue rings true with these reviewers and many of our former students as well.

Student Activities:

Literature Circles: Students will be placed in novel groups according to their novel selection for the purpose of an in-depth author study. A group presentation is a must with a follow-up activity investigating similarities between Caroline B. Cooney novels.

*After reading The Face on the Milk Carton, have students look up statistics regarding the kidnapping of children in your county/state. Compare statistics for males and females. Contrast your county or state’s statistics with those of neighboring counties/states.

*In The Face on the Milk Carton, Janie feels forced to choose between the family that raised her and the family who brought her into this world. Have students create a T chart comparing and contrasting family life as Janie Johnson and as Jennie Spring.

*Debate the issue of freedom of speech to go along with The Voice on the Radio. Divide the class into two groups: those who feel Reeve had a right to share Janie’s story and those who feel he did not have a right. Students should refer to the book and their own ideas for supporting their arguments.

*Pre-Reading Activity for Driver’s Ed. Provide a copy of Michigan’s Driver Education manual for the class. Allow students to peruse the manual thoroughly. Have students make a chart of the requirements for obtaining a license in Michigan. How old do you need to be? What kinds of tests do you need to pass? What happens if you fail the written test, the driving test, or both? Display the chart in the room and refer to it as you study the novel.

*After reading Driver’s Ed, students will be given an opportunity to express themselves through creative writing about what their driver’s license means to them. Students will present their writing to the rest of the class.

Created in part by Stephen Collison and Mark Naffie

Go back to the AUTHORS PAGE.

Go back to the A.S.T.A.L. Home Page.

This web page was last updated on: 21 June 2007

All content on this and all other related pages is Copyright © The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College.