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Archive for the ‘African/African American’ Category

Jonas, A. (1995). Splash. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
A young girl’s pond is the source of constant activity as animals jump (or fall) in and out of it.  A repeating question asks how many things are in the pond and gives the opportunity for children to count.

My grade: A
I can only imagine how much fun young children would have with this book.  There is also plenty of chance for interaction, if the book is read outloud.  The colorful illustrations are also very appealing.

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Hughes. L. (2006). Poetry for young people: Langston Hughes A. Rampersad & D. Roessel (Eds.). New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
This collection includes 26 of Langston Hughes’ poems.  The collection is illustrated by Benny Andrews.  The shorter length of the poems make them approachable for younger readers.

My grade: A+
Editors Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel have put together a really nice edition of Langston Hughes poetry.  They have also included a thorough introduction, which gives biographical details about Hughes.  The inclusion of footnotes explaining various aspects of each poem are also a great touch.  The illustrations fit well with the poems and are beautifully rendered.

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Flournoy, V. (1985). The patchwork quilt. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.
In The Patchwork Quilt, Flournoy treats the reader to a beautiful story with many layers.  Tanya learns how to assemble a quilt from her grandmother and Tanya’s mother realized the importance of the project after originally scoffing at it.

My grade:  A+
It is no wonder this book won the Coretta Scott King Award.  I love the layers – on one hand it is about a young girl connecting with her grandmother, on the other it is about valuing our elders.  I particularly liked this story because my great-grandmother was an avid quilter.  I spent my afternoons after kindergarten with her and played under her huge quilt frame.  This book brought back delightful memories.

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Aardema, V. (1981). Bringing the rain to Kapiti Plain. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Aardema recounts a Kenyan story in this book.  This tale is more an adaptation than a true retelling, though.  Aardema builds on the similarities between the story and an English nursery rhyme, “The House that Jack Built.”  The story explains how Ki-pat shoots the rain from the sky to end a drought.

My grade: B+
My grade is based on the rhythm of the story and how well suited it is to reading aloud.  The style actually reminds me more of “The Woman Who Swallowed a Fly,” but that’s likely due to the fact that I’m not familiar with “The House that Jack Built.”  I have my doubts about the accuracy of both the story and the illustrations; however, without further research, I can’t prove my doubts.

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Anderson, M. T. (2006). The astonishing life of Octavian Nothing: The pox party. Cambridge: Candlewick Press.
Anderson gives us the story of Octavian, a young slave boy who is an experiment for The College of Lucidity during the Revolutionary War.  The author explains in a note at the end of the book that The College of Lucidity is an “incompetent version” of the American Philosophical Society.  The tale is both horrifying, particularly the treatment of Octavian after he is recaptured following his escape, and beautiful.  Anderson’s style, writing and exquisite details almost give the feel of magical realism even though the central group in this story (The College of Lucidity) is based on extreme logic.

My grade:  A+
My grade for this book is likely influenced by my love of historical fiction.  Anderson has created such a rich story with well-developed characters that are so vivid you can easily picture yourself meeting them.  I look forward to reading more of this series.

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Curtis, C. P. (1999). Bud, not Buddy. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
He’s Bud, not Buddy.  The main character in this story by Curtis corrects his name throughout the book.  This story follows Bud from orphanage, to foster home, to his time on the road and finally to the home of Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!  Curtis gives readers a look at America during the Great Depression while the story of Bud’s search for his father unfolds.

My grade:  A+
I really enjoy books that take you through a range of emotions and Bud, not Buddy does just that.  Bud will have you laughing out loud and then sniffing back tears.  This book is really a must read.

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Mitchell, M. K. (1993). Uncle Jed’s barbershop. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Set in the early 20th century and Great Depression-era, the book gives a glimpse of life for African Americans in the rural South.  Mitchell was born and raised in Mississippi, which gives her an authentic voice for this story.  The story contains themes of sacrifice for family and perseverance to realize a dream.

My grade:  A

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