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STORIES AND SONGS OF SLAVE RESISTANCE

A poem about the impossibility of enslaving the mind and soul of a person in chains sets the tone for this stunning collection of stories and songs in tribute to slave resistance in America. Working chronologically, Rappaport (Martin’s Big Words, 2001, etc.) is especially interested in the use of song as an instrument of resistance, and she includes well-known spirituals such as Go Down, Moses as well as more obscure songs whose tunes have been long forgotten. Powerful lines such as “Run, nigger, run, patroller’ll ketch ya / Hit ya thirty-nine and swear he didn’t tech ya” tell of unspeakable cruelty and despair; others of defiance and the hope of deliverance. Ranging in acts of rebellion, from planting less corn to learning to read, slave narratives comprise the bulk of the text. Vignettes are included from the lives of Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, John Scobell, Suzie King Taylor, and others who resisted their enslavement physically, intellectually, or spiritually. Rappaport creates several characters that are composites of actual slaves, which seems both unnecessary and potentially confusing when juxtaposed with actual historical figures. Nevertheless, the focus on resistance works well, and Evans’s bold, dramatic oils portray the subject unflinchingly. Oversized pages of thick stock give full range to the power of his art. An excellent account of the many ways in which slaves participated in bringing down the greatest evil in our nation’s history. (author’s note, chronology of important events, bibliography, recommended reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0984-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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