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The Taking of Room 114: A Hostage Drama in Poems Hardcover – March 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Did the subtitle jar you a bit? "A Hostage Drama in Poems." Poems?! It works remarkably well. Mel Glenn takes a difficult subject--a berserk teacher holding his students hostage--and lets the drama play out in this unusual format. The poems--five from each student, one for each year of high school, and the last composed on the day of the crisis--reveal the thoughts, dreams, and fears of contemporary teens in an urban classroom. A bit like rap in visual form, the poems cut deep, build in suspense. The honesty expressed will capture the interest of even the most reluctant readers.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8-10. At 8 a.m. on June 16th, the seniors are lined up in the courtyard waiting to receive their yearbooks. Some flirt. Some daydream. Some are impatient. All of them will be in first-period history class where their teacher, Mr. Wiedermeyer, will lock the classroom door, brandish a gun, and hold them all hostage. Glenn's proven ear for the cadence of speech is exercised here with great skill while telling the story of each character's life and preoccupation. The many points of view expressed, the typographical versatility, and the creative use of white space all add interest to the unfolding story of the tragedy of a teacher's life and the vivid stories of his students. Unfortunately, melodrama supplants real drama. Stereotypical portrayals spoil any real involvement, and predictability destroys the suspense. The Jewish student is being pushed by his parents; the Asian student is hellbent toward success; the one with artistic talent thinks he is gay; one is pregnant; one is abused, etc. And the reporters are uncaring and aggressive; the parents scream and yell; and the administration bumbles along. The selections lack the conceits that heighten the enjoyment of traditional poetry?metaphor, simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia. But they're never boring and often very clever. YAs will find their interest piqued and reluctant readers particularly will be drawn to the excitement of design and content.?Marjorie Lewis, formerly at Heathcote School, Scarsdale, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525675485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525675488
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A classroom is a community, and everyone in it views and interacts within it differently. This story takes multiple viewpoints, weaving together the strands creating the seemingly-impossible scenario of a classroom held hostage by a gun-toting teacher. While mystifying at first, as the poetic narratives resonate, the world of Room 114, evolved over 4 years of high school, becomes a clear window on the individuals involved, and a mirror of vital issues in youthful society. This book creates images in your mind that resonate long after the last page is turned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The subtle understory of the teacher holding students hostage was the perfect blending element in this tapestry of high school life. If you're looking for TV fireworks=type action in a rescue scene, then this is not the book for you. The slam-bang comes as each student's life moves from freshman to senior, their thoughts and actions a drama that unfolds into their final class with their senior history teacher. You know these people. You went to school with them
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on June 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is the end of the school year, and the seniors just want to get their yearbooks and stop thinking about school. They have plans to start work or to go to college, and no one can really be bothered with classes. But then Mr. Wiedermeyer, a senior history teacher, locks the door of his classroom behind his students. He has a gun, although he doesn't seem sure of how he is going to use it, and he won't let his students leave.

Soon the media is involved, reporting on the story as administrators and police try to puzzle through the notes Mr. Wiedermeyer slips under the door. They aren't sure what to make of the things he is saying, and they are terribly afraid of making a bad situation worse.

This story is told in a series of free-verse poems from the minds of the students in the classroom that day and of the others who are involved in the situation.

I really liked that there were five poems about each student, one related to each of his or her four years at the high school and then one related to the day of the hostage situation. Mr. Wiedermeyer's notes and his tone of absolute discouragement made me sad and made him seem less like a villain to me. However, I would have liked to have had more background on some of the characters in this story. Sometimes five poems wasn't enough to figure out what was going on in an individual's life.
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Format: Hardcover
Read this book. You will probably want to buy it so you can go back and read it more times and it may not be available in every library, but I recommend reading it before you buy it. Once you do, you'll want it. If you can't check it out, it's worth buying sight unseen. I absolutely love this book, so much so that I wrote spontaneously thought to write a review.

Mel Glenn is a great figure in poetry. His storytelling through disconnected short poems is not unheard of but still very unique. I performed several poems from this book for competitive Speech in high school. They were a bit of a hit. Like the book, I ended a bit obtusely, and many judges disliked me for that because an important part of speaking is revealing your meaning clearly enough for everyone. The ending in the book is not presented chronologically or summarily, but it is also very simple and astounding.

This book is touching. It is psychologically brilliant. Each character in a very short series of poems, some of them like parents only allotted one beacuse of their small relevance, are fully rounded! Many sides of the issue are presented. Many lives are expressed. Some would complain that too many characters are introduced and then abandoned, but all these characters were involved in the hostage situation. Some of the poems are news stories, and the whole thing is looked at much like Columbine was looked at: we HAVE to interview every single student, even if they weren't involved because they were all so deeply affected. These characters are not irrelevant. They were part of a school hostage situation. The personalization of the main students, those in the classroom, is to inspire sympathy for them. If they were a faceless group of kids, then the book would have no point. In a way, it is a bit too realistic, particularly for what most people expect out of poetry.
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By bob on May 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Who would like to be hostage? At school even? A teacher named Mr. Wiedermeyer in 1996 held these kids hostage at Tower High School. Everyone was scared. Especally all the parents who had kids locked up in that room. Everyone has there own opinion on this teacher. Some say he is brilliant and others say he is the meanest teacher. Students think he may or may have not done it. Teachers and students say this about him.All the students hopes he passed everybody. The students tell everybody what their plan is after they graduate.

I absoultly loved this book.This mystery,daredevil book really can grab your attention. Even by looking at the end of the book you will be suprised and want to read the whole thing. I felt sad at the begining and reliefed at the end!!!!!!!
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