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




- Marion Dane Bauer -

Marion Dane Bauer is a well-known and well-loved young adult author. She started to publish her young adult books in 1976. Her first published book, SHELTER FROM THE WIND, was an ALA Notable Book.

Other books that she has written, include:

ON MY HONOR (Newbery Award Winner)
RAIN OF FIRE (Jane Addams Peace Award)
FACE TO FACE (HUNGRY MIND REVIEW Children's Book of Distinction)

She writes for young adults from sixth grade on up to high school, and most of her books are contemporary realistic.


This book is about an eleven year old boy named Brad, his brother, Charlie, and his mom and dad. The parents are separated and are getting a divorce. Brad can't deal with his mom moving out and being gone, so he tells himself and his brother, that Mom will come back. He thinks that if he doesn't call, talk, or go to see his Mom, she will want to come home. He persuades his younger brother, Charlie, in believing the same thing. During the whole ordeal, their father is too occupied in the basement working as an accountant that he doesn't know what his chalred are up to. Brad and Charlie find a cat outside and watch the cat give birth to two kittens. One of the kittens die, and Brand and Charlie think that the mother killed Bow Tie, the kitten. The cat scene is symbolic to what is happening between Brad, Charlie and their Mom. In the end, Brad finally excepts his mother living in another house.

Joel and Tony are best friends who live across the street from one another. One summer morning, Tony has an idea. He wants to ride his bike down to the state park and climb rocks with Joel. Joel knows that he is not allowed to be near the rocks, and he also knows how dangerous it would be to go on their own. It ends up that Tony gets his way, and he and Joel ride bikes toward the state park. Along the way, Tony stops and decides he wants to swim in the river. Joel also knows the river is dangerous, and that they could get in big trouble if they get caught. Earlier, Joel agreed with his father, that he would only go to the state park, "On my honor." Tony again persuades Joel to swim and the boys decide to see who can swim out to a shallow spot in the middle of the river. Joel make it to the spot first and turns around to see Tony no where. He has drowned. Next, Joel tries desperately not to tell anyone that Tony has drowned. It is only after the police become involved that Joel finally tell the truth, that his friend has drowned.

We all think that we know what a homosexual looks or acts like, but do we really? How would you react if your father's partner died, and you kept his homosexuality a secret? How would you react if you started to come to the conclusion that you were homosexual? These are pieces of the sixteen short stories that are found in the book AM I BLUE? COMING OUT OF THE SILENCE, edited by Marion Dane Bauer. The stories are on many different topics and issues dealing with homosexuality and adolescence. It addresses a subject that many people are afraid of. It entertains, enlightens, and dispels myths about homosexuals. Some of the stories are comical, some fantasy, and most are contemporary realistic. There are many well-known young adult authors represented in this book. M.E. Kerr, Lois Lowry, Jane Yolen, Marion Dane Bauer, Jacqueline Woodson, and Francesca Lia Block are some of those powerful writers. This book deals with a powerful topic that many authors have steered away from. This is a good book for homosexual or heterosexual adolescence or adults.


1) What is your favorite book that you have written? What about your least favorite?

--My favorite book is always the one I'm working on right now. As to a least favorite, some have had a better reception by the world than others, but I don't think I have a least favorite.

2) Where do you get the ideas to your books? Do you write about people that you know?

--The ideas for my books come from newspaper stories, things my pets did (because my pets can't read; I never write about my kids), a real-life incident which happened to a friend (in the case of ON MY HONOR, only), or sometimes just from the air. What matters is that, whatever the idea is, I have to feel strongly about it. In other words, it must touch some important issue in my own life. And of course, personal experiences make their way into my stories, but only in the small points. I never write autobiographically as far as the larger story is concerned. I'm only writing the most inner truths of my heart, not my surface life.

3) How do you structure the information in your stories? Do you have a certain way you write? How long does it take you to write you books, until they are ready for publication?

--One doesn't "structure information" for fiction, so I'm not sure how to answer that question or even quite what you are asking. I follow a character through his or her journey toward an emotional resolution that I almost always know in the same moment I know what the story will be about. It takes me anywhere from six months to two and one half years to write a novel, depending on how much trouble I get into along the way.

4) What kind of books do you like to read?

--I read primarily fiction, both juvenile and adult. In the world of adult fiction, I read mostly female authors. Men too often seem to be writing about a different would that the one that feels important to me. With juvenile fiction, the gender of the author seems less important.

5) When did you first start writing?

--When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I began to know that I wanted "to write." I didn't begin doing much writing, except what was required in school, until I entered high school and learned to type, freeing myself from the burden of writing by hand. From that point on I knew, for certain, that I would, one day, be a writer. I still wasn't writing stories, though. The ones I carried in my head were too complicated. I didn't know how to begin writing them down.

6) When did you publish you first novel? What was it?

--It took me nearly a year to find a publisher for my first novel, FOSTER CHILD. By the time I did find one, I had a second novel written, SHELTER FROM THE WIND, and the publisher decided to bring that one out first as FOSTER CHILD still needed substantial work.

7) When did you decide to come out with your book AM I BLUE? COMING OUT OF THE SILENCE? Why did you decide to do this book, and how have repeople reacted to it?

--AM I BLUE? was published in 1994, so I suppose I must have started to work on the idea of such a book two or three years before. I did that book for two reasons, one completely personal, one public. The personal reason was that I had, several years before, come to terms with my own sexuality for the first time, and I was finding it awkward in a professional situation to have to make decisions, ove and over again, about "coming out." I wanted to do something through which my sexuality would be know in the children's book world, but quietly, after which people could acknowledge it or not as they chose, hire me or not as they chose, and I could use my energy dealing with other things. Having the book out has worked precisely that way for me. I also fet a passionate concern for the young people struggling to come to terms with their own sexuality. I knew that I was in a unique position to reach out to these kids, and I wanted to do so. The impact I'm told the book has had on adolescents and adults has been deeply gratifying.

8) What age group would you suggest this book be used for? Have you had any negative feedback about the book?

--I think AM I BLUE? is appropriate for kids middle school and up and for adults. It is appropriate not just for gay kids, but for all kids who live in a would in which they will, inevitably, come into contact with lesbians and gay men. All the reaction I've ever heard about the book, have been intensely positive. I'm sure it has garnered negatives, too. It would have to. But none have come back to me, and I know of no situations in which it has been banned.

9) ON MY HONOR is a very powerful book. How did you manage to fit this story line into one hundred pages?

--ON MY HONOR is short, because the time frame it covers is short and the cast is limited. My strength seems to be short, intense stories focused around two characters. I have another like that coming out next fall, called AN EARLY WINTER.

10) How did you arrive at the plot for ON MY HONOR?

--ON MY HONOR is the only one of my books to be based on real experience. It was something that happened to a friend of mine when we were both about 13. But he core of the story, most of the events and all of Joel's thoughts and feelings, were created as they are in every other story, out of my imagination.

11) A QUESTION OF TRUST was a realistic story about divorce. What age range do you suggest should read this book?

--I think A QUESTION OF TRUST is a fit, as it is true of most of my novels, for fourth grade and up with it probably having greatest impact at around sixth grade.

Page compiled in part by: Christine Fry, Brooke Gielczyk, and Jodi Miller

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