“I found that I almost envied his pain. He hurt because he remembered.” page 74
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler.
Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2005, my edition 2007.
Modern vampire fantasy, 310 pages.
Lexile: 730L .
AR Level: Not leveled.
NOTE: This book is recommended for adults only.
Shori wakes up in the woods with a ravenous hunger and a taste for blood. She doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or even what she is, but after she bites Wright, he’s willing to help her find out. The only clues they have to start with are a burnt property and Shori’s own instincts and half-remembering.
I came across this novel because Butler was recommended to me as a major speculative fiction author of color. Science fiction and fantasy are two of my favorites, although I’ll read any genre but horror. It was continually bothering me that I hadn’t read any speculative fiction by PoCs, so I wanted to try one of her books.
This picture book biography of Ida B. Wells gives a lovely overview of her life.
Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told by Walter Dean Meyers, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen.
Amistad Imprint, HarperCollins, New York, 2008.
Picture book biography, 37 pages including timeline and quotes.
Lexile: AD900L (What does AD mean in Lexile?)
AR Level: 5.4 (worth 0.5 points)
Ida B. Wells stood up for truth and justice with her words and actions, and foreshadowed the civil rights movement in many of her actions. With an illustration at least every other page, and excellent explanations of difficult topics such as lynchings, this book makes Wells’ life accessible to middle grade readers, and could even be read to some younger children with a parent.
Book intended to promote self-esteem for all children is highly problematic for children of color – not recommended.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004.
Board book, 32 pages.
I Like Myself is the story of an exuberant and imaginative little girl* and her dog. The girl states in first person narration that she likes herself in a variety of ways and circumstances.
Each page spread has at least one sentence and some as many as three. The text is rhyming, but the rhymes are at times spread over multiple pages. This book reads like a Seuss imitation, with additional words at the end as padding. It felt like some of Seuss’ affirming early readers, but with a larger vocabulary and a huge disconnect between the words and the pictures. The pace was uneven and relied heavily on the pictures to form a cohesive story. Unfortunately the pictures were even more of a disappointment.
“I’ve watched Apu at least a dozen times before with Mike and never had this feeling. I never thought it was uproariously funny like some of the kids at school or Mike did, but it never really bothered me either. Or did it, and I just ignored it?” page 127
Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger.
Margaret K. McElderry Imprint, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, New York, 2009 (my edition 2010).
YA historical fiction, 247 pages.
Lexile: HL740L (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level: 5.0 (worth 9.0 points)
NOTE: not suggested for elementary school students despite the reading level.
Samar, or Sam has never known much about her Punjabi heritage and never needed to. After her father left, her mom cut all contact with her traditional Indian family. So when her turbaned uncle shows up at the door after 9/11, Sam has no idea who he even is.
This is a coming-of-age young adult debut novel by an #ownvoice author. I purchased this book as soon as I read Shenwei’s review. I work with a number of Sikh and Indian students, and my original thought was to get this for one of my students.
However, after reading, I don’t think it would be suitable for that particular student. She’s still in middle school, very sheltered, and quite devout. I don’t think that the violence would be more than she can handle, but I think the underage drinking would bother her and keep her from getting to the parts more relevant to her life. Perhaps when she is a little older.
“The girls in the circle / have painted their toes. // They’ve twisted their hair / into big yellow bows. ” pages 4-7.
The Girls in the Circle by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson.
Produced for Scholastic by Color-Bridge Books, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.
Poem illustrated as picture book, 32 pages (including back matter).
AR Level: 1.9 (worth 0.5 points).
NOTE: Part of the Just For You series, level 2. This book is poetry.
The Girls in the Circle is a well-known poem, here presented with illustrations and additional commentary and activities. A group of girls staying at Grandma’s dress up in all her things. But when Mom arrives, she won’t let them leave until they change back… or have they?
This incredibly challenging but worthwhile read is for grown-ups only.
Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan.
Back Bay Books; Little, Brown, and Co.; Hachette Book Group; 2008, expanded edition 2009.
Adult short story collection, realistic fiction, 369 pages including extras.
Selected for Oprah’s book club in 2009.
NOTE: THIS BOOK IS FOR ADULTS ONLY. NOT FOR CHILDREN OR TEENS.
Further Note: This is a work of fiction although I am not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
This collection of short stories deals with the children of Africa. Specifically, children who are individually dealing with a variety of horrific circumstances, many of which do not have happy endings. The author is a Nigerian priest but took care to set his stories in several countries in Africa. There is a handy map in the front of the book for Americans or the geographically challenged.
Before I go any further, EVERY TRIGGER WARNING YOU CAN THINK OF for this book. If you are sensitive to bad things happening to children, you might not be able to read this book or even this review. But, on the other hand, I think every adult should read this book at least once. Because these are real things happening to children, and if we ignore this then it will just keep happening.