Williams-Garcia, Rita. P.S. Be Eleven
21 May 2013, Amistad Press
E ARC from Netgallet.com
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern have just returned to Brooklyn after One Crazy Summer with their mother in California. Delphine especially has a new found awareness of social issues, but the world is still the same to Pa and Big Ma. Things are changing-- Uncle Darnell is back from Vietnam but is not his old self. Pa has a girlfriend who is not like Big Ma, but not like Delphine's mother, either. Delphine feels that things are slowly changing for black Americans in Brooklyn, but they are changing much more slowly. She writes letters to her mother asking about her life as well as the world around her, and her mother generally replies cryptically, and ends with "P.S. Be Eleven". This story can stand alone, but is a nice follow up of these sisters.
Strengths: If I had any doubts about Williams-Garcia's age, this certainly answered it. The details of every day life were exquisite, from Mr. Bubble to a school movie about marijuana starring Sonny Bono. Even in a time of great social change, there are still grandmothers who want granddaughters to wear dowdy clothing, and every day life to be lived.
Weaknesses: This didn't have the emotional impact or the historical significance that the first book had for me. It reminded me, oddly, of the All-of-a-Kind-Family books. Pleasant, but not earth-shaking.
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader. It's also Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at Pirogies and Gyoza.
Stone, Tanya Lee. Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles.
22 January 2013, Candlewick Press
I've had several of my students ask for books about the Tuskegee Airmen, so this was eagerly snatched up by students who are interested in Civil Rights, and also those who like to read about WWII. This has a good narrative style, plenty of pictures, and was very informative. My only complaint is that students tend to balk at nonfiction of this length. Great for a lot of Common Core pairings!
Tuck, Pamela M. As Fast As Words Could Fly
1 April 2013, Lee and Low Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Mason, who is growing up in North Carolina in the 1960s, helps his father by writing letters for a Civil Rights group. To thank him, the group gives him a typewriter. Mason and his brothers are enrolled by their father in a nearby all-white school because their father says that someone must start making things different. The boys experience plenty of prejudice, but Mason excels, especially in his typing class. He also works in the school library. Eventually, he gets to represent the school in a typing contest. Based on the experiences of the author's father.
I was hoping that this was a novel, because it has a lot of potential. It is a picture book, and the illustrations are quite nice. I am half tempted to buy a copy for my middle school library, but picture books don't get much use. If we had a unit on Civil Rights, I would consider it.