Sheila Cole

The Canyon

For as long as Zachary Barnes can remember he has been going to the canyon. In fact everybody in San Ramon, where he lives, goes there to picnic, to jog, and to enjoy its wild beauty. Zach and his best friend, Trevor, have tested their courage and strength on the canyon’s steep bluffs. Zach has taken his best photographs of its scenery and wildlife. Somehow he always ends in the canyon when he needs to be alone with his thoughts.

When Zach hears that the Bowen Corporation is planning to build a luxury housing development in the canyon, he is determined to find a way to keep their bulldozers from rolling. He and Trevor pull up the surveyor’s stakes. But when they find that their act of vandalism is not effective in stopping the construction, Trevor becomes a little overenthusiastic. He intimidates Zach into using more severe vandalism to slow the corporation’s efforts to develop the canyon. The boys’ friendship comes to an end because their tactics and commitment to the canyon diverge. Although Zach is afraid that his act of vandalism will be found out, he does not give up. With other children in the community, he starts a drive to get signatures on a petition, and a letter writing campaign..

Still, the vandalism continues to prey on Zach’s mind until he comes up with the idea of writing a letter of apology and giving his precious baseball-card collection in partial payment for his mistake. This sparks an advertising campaign on the Internet to persuade the corporation to trade its interest in the canyon for thousands and thousands of nationally contributed baseball cards.

“…Zach seems very ordinary, but Cole twists the plot bit by bit, and by the end, Zach’s ordinariness has become an important part of the story’s message…Kids will enjoy seeing how the persistence of a young person like themselves can lead to success.”
--Susan Dove Lemke, ALA Booklist

Selected Works

"An exceptional job of showing readers what life was like for children in times past." School Library Journal
“Solid, truthful writing about a teenager wrestling with the greatest of dilemmas”
-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
A portrait of a Mary Anning, who in 1811, when she was only 13 years old, discovered the first complete fossil of an ichthyosaur.
Lisa learns that meaning well is not enough. It's the doing that counts. "A common peer group situation...dealt with bluntly and convincingly." Booklist
Eleven-year-old Zachary tries to stop the development of the local canyon he loves.