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All Sleek and Skimming


by Lisa Heggum

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coming of age, short stories
list price: $19.95
also available: eBook
published: 2006
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
12 to 100
8 to 12
Reading age:
12 to 100
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

All Sleek and Skimming

Here in Canada, and abroad, more and more people are recognizing the skill and scope of much of our contemporary young adult literature. Adult readers find themselves drawn to these books – by magnificent writing, by vivid and unforgettable characters and by stories that leave an indelible mark on readers of any age. And while the ‘young adult’ label encompasses a wide range of genres, writing styles and subjects, there are numerous themes that often recur in this literature – issues such as love and loss, friendship and self-discovery. How these are uniquely handled by different authors and within different genres is what makes YA literature so richly varied and endlessly exciting.

These same themes are also to be found in many of the short stories written for young adults, as in the new collection All Sleek and Skimming. These stories, selected by Lisa Heggum, are specifically geared at older teens, and bear particular relevance and meaning for that time in a young person’s life.

A broad range of characters and life situations are glimpsed in these pages: young people discovering and/or acknowledging their own sexuality, a young woman turning a deaf ear to her best friend’s plea for help, and several pregnant teens facing large and life-changing decisions. The graphic novel format is represented here as well, in two different entries. And, of course, there are several stories in this collection in which love and loss emerge. In “The Legacy” by James Heneghan, a teen boy and his family are confronted with the brutal slaying of his father in a Belfast pub; while in Arthur Slade’s “The Deluge,” another teen feels that he was somehow responsible for his friend’s suicide. In “Dawn” by Tim Wynne-Jones, a boy experiences loss of a different kind: the announcement of his parent’s divorce, and in Janet McNaughton’s “Piglet,” a young woman very nearly loses her son when a neighbour sends a letter suggesting that she should be investigated for child abuse. The assortment of stories to be found in this collection are solid, perceptive and illuminating, and they will undoubtedly inspire many readers to read (or reread) the books from which many of them have come.

These three new entries in the young adult canon provide very different reading experiences. Yet their characters share many common feelings and life experiences, and they each explore these things in ways that offer readers much to think about and/or that will touch them in a special way.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2006. Vol.29 No. 3.

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  • Commended, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age
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“If any proof were needed that literature for young adults has come of age, Lisa Heggum has provided it in this extraordinary anthology, which demonstrates—once and for all—the inextricable connection between young adult and adult literature. Older teens and adults will recognize the commonalities of their interests and experiences in these superbly realized and selected short stories. Bravo!”
—Michael Cart, Booklist columnist and Founding Editor of Rush Hour

"Dark, tender, and funny, this is the book I wanted when I was a teen."
—Maggie MacDonald, author of Kill the Robot and member of the Hidden Cameras and Republic of Safety

This anthology combines powerful young adult fiction and adult fiction with teen appeal. It gathers stories of interest to older teen readers, an often overlooked group.

Many teens think young adult books are too simple or out of touch, or both. They often skip them entirely and turn to adult books, thinking they are more challenging. But these readers often have trouble locating adult literature that deals with issues relevant to their lives.

The stories in this collection are funny, nasty, playful, heartbreaking, angry, honest, authentic and surreal. They’re about family, friends, obstacles, searching, love, loss, music, sex, discovery and growing up.

Lisa Heggum, a librarian passionate about reaching older teen readers, has gathered stories from some of the brightest lights writing today.

Authors included in this anthology:

Gil Adamson
Diana Aspin
Gary Barwin
Martha Brooks
Ivan E. Coyote
Brian Doyle
Anne Fleming
Lee Henderson
James Henegan
Sheila Heti
Susan Kernohan
Carrie Mac
Derek McCormack
Janet McNaughton
Joe Ollmann
Michel Rabagliati
Stuart Ross
Arthur Slade
Susannah M. Smith
Ania Szado
Madeleine Thien
Tim Wynne-Jones

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Editorial Reviews

"22 powerful stories on the adolescent condition by gifted Canadian writers. For young readers it will be an eye-opener to learn that it is possible to read—and write—in this way."

— Quill & Quire

"A beautiful balance has been struck between tackling issues that affect adolescent lives and providing quality writing...Details are rich and closely observed."

— Books in Canada

"All Sleek and Skimming brings together a bunch of stories by adult authors who write about protagonists in their late teens. And it's not condescending, which is big. The language and writing style aren't unchallenging or uninteresting, but the characters' lives aren't alienating either. For the most part it's current, engaging and sometimes suicidally complete."

— Broken Pencil

"The selections-ranging from lighthearted to mysterious to tragic-are well crafted and worth the read...they create a well-rounded portrait of teenage life told through authentic voices."

— School Library Journal

"There's a little something for everyone here, each addition to the collection a short, strong gem of a read that refuses to believe that younger readers need a filtered down version of the truth. I highly recommend it from cover to cover."

— Shameless Magazine

"Readers will encounter sex, teen pregnancy, divorce, incest, murder, and disfigurement...Chosen with an eye to building a bridge between young adult and adult fiction, these tales limn the mundane horror of adolescence in ways that frequently jolt expectations."

— Booklist

"All Sleek and Skimming makes a very good case for upping what might be called the wattage in literature for teens... It's gritty and literary, worldly-wise, funny, sad and utterly engaging."

— The Globe and Mail

"Public and school librarians who are building collections of Canadian short fiction will appreciate All Sleek and Skimming."

— Resource Links

"The pieces are varied in style, from first person confessional narrative to graphic fiction. Literary gems, each with a different colour and lustre, are strewn throughout the pages of this book. Most likely, All Sleek will act as a map for teens, guiding them toward further treasures in their library or bookstore."

— The Women's Post

"It's all here, seen from many approaches: sad, funny, ironic, morose and more."

— Toronto Star

"The assortment of stories to be found in this collection are solid, perceptive and illuminating, and they will undoubtedly inspire many readers to read (or re-read) the books from which many of them have come "

— Canadian Children's Book News
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About the Author

Lisa Heggum

Lisa Heggum is a teen services librarian who began her career in New York City and currently works as the Toronto Public Library's Youth Collections Librarian. Lisa has served on young adult book award committees for the Ontario and Canadian Library Associations. She is the first Canadian to be certified as a Young Adult Library Services Association "Serving the Underserved" trainer, and has presented at numerous library conferences. Lisa won the inaugural Ontario Public Library Association Leadership in Youth Services Award.
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