I reread Monster for a grad. class I'm taking this summer. It won the very first Printz Award in 2000, along with a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and was a 1999 National Book Award finalist.
Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon deals with his anxiety over his arrest, imprisonment and upcoming trial by writing the script to a movie depicting his nightmare. The DA is calling him and his co-defendant "monsters." He sees himself as just a teenage kid, who's really into films and filmmaking and who loves his family, trying to get by. The book is a combination journal/ screenplay complete with camera directions.
Steve stands accused of participating in a botched robbery that resulted in the death of the storeowner. Steve's alleged role was a sort of lookout. He was supposed to have checked the store to be sure there were no police or customers present. Steve's narration through his screen play is at times ambiguous and one begins to wonder if he is a reliable narrator. The state's case is based primarily on the testimony of admitted criminals who have copped plea deals. A witness has placed Steve's co-defendant at the scened, but she is reluctant to implicate a black man. The cousin of his co-defendant has provided an alibi, Steve's film teacher testifies as a character witness and Steve testifies on his own behalf.
The story is bound to spark lots of discussions about justice, tolerance, and racism. It's journal/ screenplay format is bound to attract reluctant readers.
Recommended by: Brenda Kahn, Librarian, New Jersey, USA