California Blue

Author Klass, David
Language English
New York Scholastic, 1994


When seventeen-year-old John Rodgers discovers a new sub-species of butterfly which may necessitate closing the mill where his dying father works, they find themselves on opposite sides of the environmental conflict.

Subjects :

  • Fiction
  • Environmental protection.
  • Butterflies.

Back to Top

Author Illustrator(s) :

Back to Top

Best Books :

  • Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Books in the Middle: Outstanding Books, 1994 Voice of Youth Advocates
  • Eureka! California in Children's Literature, 2003 Book Wholesalers, Inc.
  • Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1994
  • Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 H.W. Wilson
  • Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 H.W. Wilson
  • Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1994 National Council for the Social Studies NCSS
  • School Library Journal Best Books, 1994 Cahners
  • Senior High Core Collection, Seventeenth Edition, 2007 The H. W. Wilson Co.
  • Senior High School Library Catalog, Fifteenth Edition, 1997 H.W. Wilson
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 1998 American Library Association
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1994 American Library Association
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1995 American Library Association
  • Young Adults' Choices, 1996 International Reading Association

Back to Top

Awards, Honors & Prizes :

  • Friends of Children and Literature (FOCAL) Award, 1996 Winner United States
  • Young Adult Book Award, 1996 Winner Pennsylvania

Back to Top

State & Provincial Reading List :

  • California Young Reader Medal, 1999; Nominee California
  • Iowa Teen Award, 1998-1999; Nominee Iowa
  • Lone Star Reading List, 1995-1996; Texas
  • South Carolina Junior Book Award, 1997; Nominee South Carolina
  • South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, 1997; Nominee South Carolina
  • Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 1997; Nominee Virginia
  • Young Adult Reading Program, 1995; South Dakota

Back to Top

Curriculum Tools :

Back to Top

Reading Measurement Programs:

Scholastic (New York) 1994.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Upper Grade
Book Level 5
Accelerated Reader Points 8

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 820
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level High School
Reading Level 6
Accelerated Reader Points 10

Back to Top

Reviews :

Mary Harris Veeder (Booklist, Mar. 1, 1994 (Vol. 90, No. 13))
John Rodgers lives in a northern California logging town, but the redwoods he runs through mean more to him than a livelihood. At 17, he cares about track and butterflies, although neither pursuit is understood by his family. His father's recently diagnosed cancer occupies the family, and John, a loner who is shy around girls, dreams about his biology teacher, Miss Merrill. When the unusual chrysalis John finds turns out to be an unknown species, everything is called into question, from his father's job to his relationship to Miss Merrill. The "inner game" of running and the fear John's strong father has of dying are both handled well, and Klass' exploration of the human cost of environmental action suggests that there are alternatives to the simplistic "butterfly vs. logging jobs" model. Category: Older Readers. 1994, Scholastic, $13.95. Gr. 7-10.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York,), PUBLISHED: 1994.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
Klass writes a sort of enriched sports fiction, combining vividly told stories of athletic competition with perceptive explorations of character and social themes. This is his best yet. For most of his 17 years, John Rodgers has been at defiant odds with his powerful, hard-nosed father, Henry, who can't understand how a son of his could prefer track and intellectual pursuits over contact sports and the social life of a jock. Now that Henry is dying of leukemia, John is assaulted by a guilt that's compounded when he discovers a new species of butterfly in the local lumber mill's redwood forest, portending not only a hard future for his small hometown but -- since he's already been beaten up just for subscribing to an ecology magazine -- a bleak personal future as well. Realistically and evenhandedly, the author presents the arguments and confrontations between townsfolk and conservationists through the eyes of a teenager whose courage, intelligence, heart, body -- and, not least, his sense of humor -- are severely tested but prove equal to the occasion. Klass simplifies neither characters nor issues; and whether describing a cloud of butterflies or Bob Beamon's record-shattering broad jump in the '68 Olympics, he writes with skill and authentic feeling. A rich story, capped by a brilliantly crafted, multilayered reconciliation between father and son. 1994, Scholastic, $13.95. Starred Review. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York,), PUBLISHED: 1994.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In this beautifully rendered novel, Klass ( Wrestling with Honor ; A Different Season ) transforms an abstract environmental issue into a compelling story of a boy in transition from adolescence to adulthood. The book owes some of its success to how the author sidesteps dogmatism while still making clear his environmentalist point of view. The protagonist, John Rodgers, has to face three troubling facts. First, his father, with whom John has never really gotten along, has been diagnosed with leukemia and is likely to die soon. Second, John has discovered a new species of butterfly and wants to preserve it, but the butterfly lives on land owned by the local mill, and any governmental protection of the area will be bitterly resisted by the entire town, including John's parents. And finally, John has fallen in love with his high school biology teacher, who does not entirely rebuff his attentions. Klass handles these complex situations with grace and subtlety; an unusual and credible inclusion is Miss Merrill's honest acknowledgement to her student that she has strong feelings for him. The absorbing first-person narration rings true, projecting the credible voice of a teenager just beginning to break free from his emotional ties to home, family and friends. The fears, excitement, anger and energy of this awkward psychological time are movingly captured here. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York,), PUBLISHED: 1994.)

Hugh Agee (The ALAN Review, Winter 1995 (Vol. 22, No. 2))
In a northern California mill town, seventeen-year-old John Rodgers lives in the shadow of his athletic father, who, like many in the community, is a lumber-mill employee. After learning that his father has leukemia, John, a distance runner, goes for a run in the forest to sort out his feelings. In the process he discovers a new species of butterfly. He shares his find with Miss Merrill, his attractive biology teacher, who provides an intellectual model for him but who is also someone he regards romantically. Her former professor confirms the California Blue, leading to a clash between environmentalists and the townspeople, and, in particular, between John and his father. In the aftermath of the confrontation, John's father for the first time comes to watch John run in a meet, and the two are drawn closer as each gains important insights about the other. By the end of the book, the environmental issue is still not resolved, but readers may assume that a reasonable compromise will occur. Klass tells a good story with a viable theme that will interest high-school readers. 1994, Scholastic, 200 pp., $13.95. Ages 14 up.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York,), PUBLISHED: 1994.)

Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, April 1994 (Vol. 47, No. 8))
John Rodgers is a high-school junior in a California logging town, where cafés advertise "Spotted Owl Omelet" in the window and he was once beaten up for receiving a naturalist's magazine in the mail. Not surprisingly, when John discovers a never-before-seen butterfly in the logging-company forest and environmentalists seek to halt logging in order to preserve its habitat, all hell breaks loose. Klass doesn't stack the deck by making his subject species cute and furry, and he's more perceptive about this battle than most writers on the subject; while his hand is tipped in favor of the environmentalists, there's good and bad on both sides. The subplots-John's struggle to understand his domineering and now critically ill father, and his crush on his biology teacher-blend well into the main plot, making the book about manhood and the price of inclusion as well as ecology. John's narration is compelling (although he tends to philosophize too much and resorts to capital letters for emphasis too often), and his divided loyalties are well-depicted: "I had the terribly uncomfortable feeling of being an enemy among people who treated me like a friend." The topicality of subject and appeal of the themes make this a good choice for a variety of readers, including Chris Crutcher fans who are ready for something a little more restrained. R--Recommended. (c) Copyright 1994, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1994, Scholastic, 199p, $13.95. Grades 6-9.
(PUBLISHER: Scholastic (New York,), PUBLISHED: 1994.)

Back to Top

Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
New York Scholastic, 1994

Media Type: Language Material

Back to Top