Southwest Children's  Literature

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The Maze

Curriculum Connections:

There are many connections that can be made in the classroom with The Maze. Some spin off subjects from the book include runaways, foster home care, condors, and wildlife conservation. Teachers should look over the Louisville Free Public Library’s web page ( It has a book discussion kit that can be checked out from the web site. The author, Will Hobbs, was a teacher for seventeen years. His web site,, has a section of helps for teachers to use with his books. Some that are included for The Maze are for science regarding condor reintroduction done in Arizona. See the field notes of Birds of Prey Around the World at Students can make a geography connection through AAA “Indian Country” map. The map includes places found in the book including Maze Overview and Chimney Rock. Research can be done on Utah’s Canyonlands National Park where the book takes place. The ancient story of the Icarus myth comes up in the book. This makes a good springboard into a section on myths in Language Arts or Social Studies.

**Evaluation Notes for Teachers and Librarians** -- High praise for The Maze!

''Once there was a great teacher. She lived and taught in a poor, rough inner- city neighborhood, in a school riddled with gang activity and challenge. But the teacher was not afraid. Her classroom ran smoothly and kids listened. While crime and violence surrounded her, she and her property were safe. Students, from the past and present, placed the word on the street: “Do NOT mess with Teacher.” She was protected by love. I asked her how she was successful, how she broke through walls. I expected a long explanation but she explained simply: “Respect. I respect these kids and so they respect and trust me."''

My thoughts turned to this teacher as I read The Maze; the story holds the same powerful message. Protagonist Rick—a boy floundering in his life, on the brink of bigger problems—is able to lift himself to another "level." Stranger Lon facilitates this transformation. Although Lon knows nothing about Rick, he is nonjudgmental and offers Rick friendship and trust—a respect Rick responds to by being truthful, helpful and caring. Rick rises out of his personal maze empowered and ready to confront life.

Students will enjoy the excitement and adventure in this tale. Hobbs writes in an easy-going style and vividly describes nature and hang gliding. Teens will identify with Rick’s thoughts and frustrations. There are big lessons to be learned here, too. Readers discover:

- hope in unlikely places
- not all people are bad
- the importance of having the right attitude
- the payoffs of effort
- mistakes are not the end

To encourage a lifelong love of reading, it is important—but difficult—to try to find books that teens find interesting. The Maze was selected from a list of titles—by students—as a book they wanted to read. Furthermore, The Maze is a critically acclaimed book:

Best Books for Young Adults, American Library Association
Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (ALA)
Pick of the Lists, American Booksellers
Nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Award, Best Young Adult Mystery
Teachers’ Choices, International Reading Association (IRA)
Junior Library Guild Selection

In addition to these awards, school librarians should note there is a hero-librarian at the detention center in whom Rick places his trust and who comes to his aid at the end of the book!

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