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SIMON B. RHYMIN'

From the Simon B. Rhymin' series , Vol. 1

A heartwarming tale that combines Black boy joy with community connection.

An African American tween with a gift for rhyme turns a school project into something bigger.

Simon Barnes is entering fifth grade at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. He has supportive family and friends but still worries about being the shortest in his class and all the teasing that brings. One thing he holds onto is his ability to create raps, a talent that earned him the nickname Rhymin’ Simon and sparked his dream of becoming a famous rapper. His best friend, Maria Rivera, shares information about their new teacher that makes him a bit anxious, but Mr. James turns out to be a high-energy presence with infectious enthusiasm. He even raps his welcome! However, he then announces their first assignment: an oral report on a topic of their choosing. Simon’s reluctance to speak in public overshadows everything and consumes his thoughts. When he decides to make the subject of his presentation Sunny, an older homeless man who is a fixture in the neighborhood, the compassion his parents cultivated in him emerges. Reed draws on his experience as a teacher who went viral with his classroom raps to tell an upbeat story about a tween grounded in his community of Black and Latinx families. Simon is a likable protagonist, and his relationships ring true. The lively narrative is enhanced by Simon’s rhymes; cheerful illustrations contribute to the buoyant tone.

A heartwarming tale that combines Black boy joy with community connection. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53897-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

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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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner


  • National Book Award Winner


  • Newbery Honor Book

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 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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