Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It

Sundee Frazier has done a wonderful job of creating a dynamic ten-year-old character who loves rocks, scientific studies and Tae Kwon Do, misses his grandfather who recently passed away, has a supportive mother and father and a best friend to hang out with, and just happens to be biracial. This is not secondary to the story, since a chance encounter with his estranged grandfather drives most of the plot, but Brendan has many other facets to who he is, and being biracial is just one of them.

Brendan's mother, a nurse practioner, and his father, a police officer, encourage his interests and allow his a bit more freedom to roam abuot town unescorted than I give my own soon-to-be ten year old. At the mall with his grandmother, he meets the president of the local rock club, who turns out to be his mother's father. The whole family is reluctant to talk about what happened, but Brendan establishes contact and gets to know his grandfather. This is done realistically, and Brendan's struggle to justify the actions of the man who teaches him to drive a truck and plays chess weekly with an African American friend, but who also cut off contact with Brendan's mother, is delicately portrayed.
This is an important book, and I will definitely be purchasing it. I have an increasing amount of students who are biracial, and students need books who show students like themselves. (See the May 11, 2007 posting for more on this topic.) While the Janet McDonald books have been popular, they are still primarily about inner city children, and many black and biracial children live in the suburbs. I hope to see a lot more from Ms. Frazier. She has a nice web site at:

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