Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. Crown, 1991.
A bold opening paired with dramatic illustrations.
Poverty without self-pity.
The story opens with a dream, immediately pulling the child in via fantasy. It is true to her life, but seen as she would see it, without self-awareness. The quilts and fantasy are used to deal with the heroine’s difficult emotions (she is a true heroine) and to give her beauty and hope. Startlingly real, honest, lovely.
This book is a model for handling difficult topics like race, poverty for the very young. There's no preaching, only relationship. Story builds connections; books like this give me hope for the future.
In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 14-year-old Arnold (Junior) Spirit fights racism and his tribe’s anger as he tries to escape the alcoholism, depression, and death of life as a reservation Native American. I can see why this book received so much attention.
Forged by Fire is gripping! And excruciatingly painful to read. A few thoughts: I’m not sure if I bought...
Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood crafted a moving introduction. The importance of keeping a family story alive. I wonder, though, if this story would have more power in a different format?
In We Are the Ship Nelson combines fabulous paintings with rich text full of voice for a truly interesting look at the Negro League of baseball. The paintings are gentle, respectful, full of love with absolutely amazing use of light.
Absolutely Positively Not is a book about being gay (or not). I absolutely loved the short chapters. Proof Cheryl Klein (at Levine) didn’t edit it since she snarked at me once about having short chapters. She’d never let these wee chaps make it to publication.
Monster has an interesting form, but I’m not sure it worked for me. This book was told in a combination of diary and screenplay, both supposedly written by the protagonist, Steve. I bought that a kid could be on trial for something he maybe didn’t do...
Esperanza Rising is a moving story that opens a world seldom seen with authenticity, and without seeming politically motivated. Real, not a soapbox.
If a culturally rich adaptation of a classic tale is going to be on a required reading list for any MFAC program, I think it should be Yeh Shen.
Easy to read text that can be read independently by most first/second graders and Mochizuki's is an important voice in a history that has seldom been captured. Both elements combine for an important book.
Dorris hooks the reader with voice and woos her with lovely prose: personification like “the day welcomed me, brushed my hair with its breeze, greeted me with its songs” (5). The alternating POV chapters are interesting and risky for this age group. Yet I found the voice of each chapter...