10. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags: , ,

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 218 pages, read by Angie, on 02/10/2013

Delphine, Vonetta and Fern have left Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother in Oakland. Cecil left the girls when Fern was born and hasn’t seen them since. She is not the mother of their dreams; she doesn’t want them there and makes them spend all day outside of the home. She sends them to The Center and the Black Panthers. At The Center they get free breakfasts to feed their bodies and summer school to feed their minds. The Black Panthers teach them about The People and what it means to be Black.

This was a wonderful story about the 60s and the Black Panthers. It doesn’t focus on the violence or the hatred of the movement; it focuses on the outreach and the education the Panthers brought to neighborhoods. Delphine, Vonetta and Fern learn who they are and who they want to be. They learn who their mother is and how to live with her. They come to terms with the fact that she will never be the mother they dream of, but they learn to accept her for who she is. I love this quiet story of personal growth and family. Delphine is a wonderful character. She is the oldest and must take care of her sisters and keep them out of trouble. She is more of a mini-adult than a child, but during her summer in Oakland she learns to be a child and to accept life as it is.

10. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson, 151 pages, read by Angie, on 02/09/2013

D comes into the lives of two 12 year old girls in Queens one summer day. She is a foster kid and gets to roam all over the city unlike the girls who are restricted to their block. They bond over their mutual love of Tupac and their sorrow over his death. Two years later D’s mom comes back and claims D again. Suddenly she is exits their lives as quickly as she entered.

This small book is packed full of issues: racism, foster system, homophobia, prison, family. All these issues are handled as part of everyday life for the girls. They see these things every day on their block and have to figure out how to deal with them. I liked the realism of this book. These are just ordinary girls doing ordinary things, but Woodson does a fabulous job in making their story interesting.

05. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags:

Missouri Slave Narratives : A Folk History of Slavery in Missouri from Interviews with Former Slaves by The Federal Writers' Project, 1936 - 1938, 161 pages, read by Janet, on 02/02/2013

Missouri Slave NarrativesThis is a compilation of interviews with people who were once slaves and now live a free life.  The stories are written in the dialect of the speaker.  They tell of the ghosts and haunts they saw or heard about in stories and how scared they were of them.  The Ku Klux Klan were also frightening to many.  Most were not educated at all as white owners were against it, however, after gaining their freedom some learned the basics.  They tell of poor clothes and being barefooted all year round.  Many tell of being whipped by their owners and others.  They usually had to doctor themselves – using turpentine on sugar for stomachache, goose grass twigs, black root for constipation, scraped turnip bound to a frost bitten foot, and many other home-made cures.  Pensions for older folks were very small, if anything.  Many had to live with younger famiy members.  One told an old riddle:  “I rode over the bridge and yet I walked.”  (“Yet-I” was a dog.)

 

04. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim · Tags:

A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou, 212 pages, read by Kim, on 02/03/2013

The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.

Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.

Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.

But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact,A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.

songflungheaven

03. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Poetry · Tags:

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 02/02/2013

Joy is a tomboy who loves playing basketball. She is best friends with KayLee and Jack. Everything is normal and fine until she starts middle school. Suddenly her body is betraying her; she gets boobs and her period. And she starts noticing boys! One boy in particular catches her eye, Santiago. Joy wants him to notice her so she starts changing to catch his attention. She tries makeup and heels and skirts, but nothing seems to make an impression. Jack and KayLee both warn her about changing for a boy, but it isn’t until she sees Santiago with a girl who looks just like she used to that she understands.

You could not pay me enough money to go through puberty again. I wasn’t a basketball star like Joy, but pretty much everything else she goes through I remember with horror. Middle school is a horrible time in your like, but Nikki Grimes captures it wonderfully in this novel in verse. the poems transport you back to those wonderful (horrible) years with your life was ruled by hormones and you had no idea what betrayal your body was going to bring on next.

03. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Monster by Walter Dean Myers, 281 pages, read by Angie, on 02/02/2013

Steve is on trial for his life. He is accused of being the lookout during a robbery/homicide. While he is sitting in jail, Steve, the budding filmmaker, creates a film depicting his life and the events he is currently living. He is a 16-year-old, scared and alone, hoping that he will not spend the rest of his life in jail.

This is a really powerful story and probably a very accurate one for so many young people. Steve is a kid with promise who just happens to know some shady people from his neighborhood. While I didn’t always appreciate the film script structure of the book, I do think it made for an interesting and different way to portray the story. This book was definitely worthy of all the accolades that were heaped on it.

01. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kim, Multicultural Fiction · Tags: ,

The Color Purple by Alice Walker, 288 pages, read by Kim, on 01/31/2013

color purpleCelie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

 

I love this book!