"As for teen-age fiction," writes Mary Ella Randall, Silver Spring, in response to Myra Patner's look at adolescent reading, "most of it is as overwhelmingly white and unrealistic for any reader as the popcorn romances.
"I would like to see some stories about a tacky-looking little kid with zits and cornrows named Tanyanita who doesn't own a horse or wear alligator-emblem T-shirts. This kid will live in some unromantic place like Kansas City; she will go to school and fuss with her English teacher; go home and burn the collard greens; kick her little brother but not hard; steal eye makeup from her best friend and get a scholarship to Kansas State to study computer programming because she is a hot-shot student as well as the fastest 400-meter runner in the state.
"The book clubs can have all the Sarahs, Andies, Edies, Susannahs and Allisons they want. Just leave room on the shelves for my girl, Tanyanita."
Randall, "a high-school dropout, as of September," when she retired from teaching English at Coolidge High School, adds these authors and comments to Patner's suggestions for teen readers:
* Walter Dean Myers: "tells rollicking stories about wholesome youngsters with loving parents and stable homes in -- of all places -- Harlem. His characters know all about what is going on in the streets and they live among losers, but they are not losers." Among his books: Fast Sam, Cool Clyde and Stuff; Moho and the Russians; The Young Landlords.
* Sharon Bell Mathis: "Washington's own award-winning novelist, who writes intelligently and with style about mid-city youngsters. A Teacup Full of Roses has a familiar Northeast Washington setting."
* Rosa Guy: "Her girls live in a single-parent home, the single parent being their father. His over-zealous protection of his daughters makes Guy's stories an appealing variation on the themes in the usual female-dominated family." Among titles: The Friends.
* Virginia Hamilton: "Xenia, Ohio, and environs. Again, her protagonists are not drug-destroyed losers."
* Mildred Taylor: "The intensely segregated pre-civil rights South is the setting she uses. No one else tells this story to young readers." Titles: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1977 Newbery Award winner) and Let the Circle Be Unbroken.
"Don't look for books by these writers on the shelves of the typical shopping-mall book store," writes Randall. "They simply are not there, nor are they available in the drug-chain book mart. They are more likely to be found at The Cheshire Cat, the most nearly color-blind book store in the Washington metropolitan area."