Books by Brenda Wilkinson

DEFINITELY COOL by Brenda Wilkinson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

Roxanne's exhilaration as she faces seventh grade is tempered only by her penchant for worry. While her number one homegirl, Maxine, is off to a private school on scholarship, Roxanne and others from their Bronx housing project go to public school in nearby Riverdale. Roxanne does win new friends, but keeps trying to nail down which behavior is ``cool'' and which isn't: whether to break her mother's rules about guests in order to keep the interest of an eighth-grade boy; whether to cut class for a party as the other girls in her ``group'' do. This time out, Wilkinson (Ludell, 1975, etc.) slips issues of race and economic stereotyping into well-worked territory. Familiar school-story trappings are made fresh by the setting (housing projects are all but ignored by YA writers, with the exception of Walter Dean Myers), and by an appealing, pell-mell narration peppered with exclamations marks that further hasten the pace. Readers who haven't gotten the point by the last paragraph will find somewhat clunky clarification there. Nevertheless, Roxanne's honesty and zeal, the affectionate bumbling of her longtime friend Rolland, and a liberal dose of contemporary slang make for an easy, timely slide through the first days of junior high. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >

From a talented novelist, an admiring biography of this leading African-American. In detailing Jackson's rise from working-class origins to presidential candidate, Wilkinson also summarizes the history of the civil-rights movement. Like McKissack in Jesse Jackson: Keep Hope Alive (1989), she presents her subject as a role model, someone who makes an occasional mistake ("Hymietown") but in general overcomes obstacles on the road to success with courage, ability, and a song moral sense. Wilkinson pays particular attention to Jackson's early life, quotes him liberally to demonstrate his punchy, oratorical style ("Down with dope. Up with hope!"), and emphasizes his organizational and motivational skills more than his personality or family life. Adequate b&w photos plus a scattering of pointless ink drawings; very good bibliography; index. Read full book review >