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*Degrassi Generations: The Official 411* by Kathryn Ellis - young adult book review

Degrassi Generations: The Official 411
by Kathryn Ellis
Young adult 192 pages Pocket September 2005 Paperback    

The Kids of Degrassi Street; Degrassi Junior High; Degrassi High; Degrassi: The Next Generation. When did you get hooked? This book is as addicting as the shows. But the book delivers it all: the past and the present, the behind-the-scenes information, and the up-close and personal information.

In the first chapter, the story behind Degrassi is revealed. The first episode of Degrassi was actually adapted from the children’s book Ida Makes a Movie. Somehow a story about cats making a movie was transformed into the first episode of The Kids of Degrassi Street. Subsequent chapters will read very quickly for fans. The chapter on past actors is great; updated photographs are shown for some of the actors, as is an update on what they are doing today in their lives. The actress who played Stephanie Kaye now has a band called Le Jazz Boheme. Niki Kemeny, who played Voula, went into teaching, and the actress who played Kathleen now works in the field of children’s mental health research.

There are in-depth chapters on Degrassi: The Next Generation. In one chapter, a brief character sketch is given for each character. Pictures surround an interview-type format. The actors answer some fun and some serious questions - their take on cars, on how to make cheesecake, on leaving Degrassi, on writing, and many more topics are inside. There is a chapter on set design and decoration. The lockers actually came from a hospital, and the washroom is used to shoot both the boys’ and the girls’ washroom scenes. The chapter on characters’ bedrooms shows past and present characters. No chapter ever loses focus of the past - the issues chapter especially. Sex, sexuality, and abuse have been dealt with in every generation of Degrassi.

Written to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the first episode, this Canadian show is popular around the world, and with people of all ages. No wonder this show has won so many awards throughout its run. The book ends with episode outlines for Season Four’s Degrassi: The Next Generation. For fans who need more than this book and the show, there is a Degrassi online community; another way to stay connected to the show in between episodes.

With over a dozen interviews and over 700 pictures, fans will learn a lot about Degrassi. Yan Moore, who is the co-creator and creative consultant of Degrassi: The Next Generation, is interviewed, as are others who are or were behind the scenes. The author of this book had a great advantage. She has had contact with the show for some time. She handled publicity in the early years, she wrote episodes for Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, and her husband is Yan Moore. This must have been a fun book for her to make. It was a fun book to read. And I would recommend it to fans of the show, both young and old, children and parents.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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