CommuniTEEN is all about getting teens in the Portage Public Schools to read a book together, meet the author, and build a connection between the classroom and the world of literature. The wider community is also invited to read the book and hear from its author.
Sara Brown, a teacher media specialist at Portage Central High School, says, "We want to make it a way for students to connect with the community, like their family and other people, through reading. A common book is a powerful way for people to connect.”
The 2018 CommuniTEEN book is the historical novel Code Name Verity (Doubleday, 2012) by Scottish-American author Elizabeth Wein. It's about two young women, one a pilot, the other a spy, during World War II. They're captured by the German Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France when their plane crashes.
“The story is about a young pilot. She meets another character who becomes the Verity of the title,” Elizabeth Wein says in a conversation via Skype from her home in Scotland. "As the war goes on, Verity gets sent on more and more intriguing missions until she’s sent to France. Maddie, the pilot, is the woman who transports her.”
The story unfolds in Maddie’s voice as she writes out her memories on pieces of paper provided to her by her captors. Her tale becomes her battle to stay alive — and to keep her friend Verity alive too.
Wein is a pilot herself and women pilots make their way into several of her young adult novels. “In fact, I’ve flown in a small plane before from Pennsylvania to Kalamazoo sometime in my distant past,” Wein says.
Born in New York City, Wein spent part of her childhood in England and Jamaica, where her father, an educational psychologist, trained teachers for the Headstart program in its formative years. A citizen of both the United Kingdom and the United States, Wein lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children.
Wein will be in Portage to attend several events with Portage Public School students. And she will give a presentation for the general public at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, at the Air Zoo on Portage Road. The event is sponsored by Bookbug and Portage District Library. Financial support is provided by several area businesses and nonprofit groups.
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