Probably the most direct review that I could give this book is this: If I were still in the day-to-day work of direct services to families in a non-profit setting, I would buy this book for the volunteers’ library.
"Dancing at the Crossroads: Stories and Activities for At-Risk Youth Programming" by Lorna MacDonald Czarnota has smart ideas and would be a good resource for working with young teens with whom you already have an established relationship. While this single volume is in no way a how-to training guide on working with at-risk youth, it is a sourcebook for ideas and activities to be used in educational or community-building settings.
The book contains a mix of original stories by the author and some world stories that the newcomer to storytelling might not yet know. The activities are easy to follow. In the few instances where you need some type of unique prop, Lorna gives you the contact information for the supplier.
Our (staff) critique would be with how this book has been released. There are what appear to be companion volumes that give additional information to "care givers" and "practitioners" working with youth. Why all of this information was not combined into one solid resource (instead of three) leaves us a bit perplexed. One expanded volume of Lorna’s work would allow the readers a chance to go much deeper into foundational understanding on the use of stories with youth. That would perhaps bring even more converts to storytelling. This book needs the clarifying front-matter that is found in other volumes, especially the parts which might teach how to create one’s own stories and activities.
Even with that critique in mind, we think "Dancing at the Crossroads" is still a worthy starting resource for those working with any type of early or middle adolescent.
We received a free copy of this book from the publisher in order to do this review.