Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night

Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night
by A. E. Cannon
YA fiction. 133 pp.
Delacorte. 1988.

flap copy:

Cal Cameron, high school jock and superhero comic book fanatic, is an insider at Scenic View High School. He's popular and he does the "right things." But Cal's life isn't as perfect as it looks. His cranky old granddad practically lives in Cal's back pocket, and Cal resents his brilliant sci-fi nut brother whose friends go to restaurants dressed as their favorite science-fiction characters. It is his emotionally distant father, with whom Cal has nothing in common, who saddens him the most.

But at the beginning of his junior year, cal's popular facade disappears. his heart isn't in anything—not even football. It's a time of crisis for Cal Cameron.

Enter Marti Jeffs, who has legs "like Charles Atlas" and isn't ashamed of them. Brand-new at Scenic View High, Marti doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks about her. Cal, who has made a career of being "in," is fascinated by Marti. They become friends, but Cal is careful to pursue their relationship away from high school because Marti is so unlike Cal's friends, and around her Cal acts like a different person. Cal feels as though he's leading a double life—Cal Cameron by day, Spider-Man™ by night.

This provocative and engaging novel, winner of the Fifth Annual Delacorte Press Prize for an Outstanding Young Adult Novel, introduces a remarkable, appealing hero, and A. E. Cannon, a highly original and witty writer.

I have a tendency to be rather forthcoming with my thoughts about the books I read. Occasionally, I have thoughts about how unabashed I may have been. For example, sometimes an author will come across my blog. When that happens, I reread what I've written about their book. With the most recent time this has happened, I reread the review to discover that I didn't say anything positive about the book. And I felt bad about that, because the book wasn't bad; it was just mediocre. But more than that, I felt bad because I've met this author before (maybe a couple times even) and she is wonderful and nice. So I decided that I would remedy this by reading one of her other books.

Hence Cal Cameron. I'm actually a bit surprised that I hadn't read this particular book before, but I'm glad I hadn't. You see, it's nice to come across something that is older. It's oddly refreshing. It's nice to have a story that's told rather straight forwardly. It's nice to have normal characters who aren't riddled with dysfunction and abnormality. The writing is good. The characterization is good. Actually, this is how good the characterization is—Cannon actually got me to be sympathetic toward and like a quarterback. That in and of itself is a feat worth commending. I really like how she walked us through his growth to where he becomes a better, truly likable person.

Fobby tells me that he thinks I'll also like Charlotte's Rose, despite my strong misgivings toward pioneer stories. (Really, if you have read as many pioneer manuscript submissions as I have, you'd have your misgivings about pioneer stories as well. Just ask DesMama.) So maybe I'll pick that one up sometime soon.


Ali said...

I haven't read this, and I'm wondering: does the cover completely undermine the premise of the book, or am I not getting it? The girl in the picture looks like exactly the chirpy, fit girl who would attract the attention of the stereotypical high school football player crowd.

Edgy said...

Good point. I'm not a fan of the cover, but, then, you have to remember the cover art is twenty years old. Cover art from the eighties just seemed to have a different feel and purpose. I imagine that the instructions given to the artist were We need to have a quarterback and a girl who runs.

ann cannon said...

Oh I just hate that cover and I did from the moment Delacorte sent me the pencil drawing. I wailed. I said BUT MARTI LOOKS JUST LIKE A CHEERLEADER AND/OR HOMECOMING QUEEN. I was also distressed that the cover looked like a Sweet Valley high book. My editor, Wendy Lamb, said they wanted to appeal to female readers, even though they acquired the novel precisely because it was a book for guys. As it turned out, I'm not sure the cover appealed to boys or girls.

When my second book came out (THE SHADOW BROTHERS--also a guy book) the publisher elected not to make the same mistake. They hired Neil Waldman to do it, who used to illustrate Gary Paulsen's covers in the 80's. I was a lot happier with that one.

Anyway. I love your blog. And it was fun to see an old book of mine here. Thanks.

Best wishes.


Ali said...

It does look like a Sweet Valley High book, now that you mention it. Yeah, somehow I don't see the average teen guy carrying home any book with a couple on the cover, so I'd say they missed the boat there if they were going for a boy book. It sounds like a good book, though!