Wednesday, August 28, 2019

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

Zoboi, Ibi. My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
August 27th 2019 by Dutton
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Ebony-Grace has a comfortable life in Alabama in 1984 with her mother and her grandfather, who was an engineer for NASA. When things start to go wrong with her grandfather, she is sent to visit with her father in Harlem. He runs an auto repair shop and loves his vibrant, if sometimes struggling, neighborhood. He thinks that Ebony should fit in well with the local children, who listen to rap music and are given a lot of freedom. Ebony, however, has had a sheltered childhood, and she and her grandfather spent a lot of time watching Star Trek and other science fiction stories, and also created their own worlds, where she is E-Grace Starfleet and he is Captain Fleet. She had played with her neighbor, whom she called "Bianca Pluto", but Bianca has moved on to the world of lip gloss and her crew, the Nine Flavas, where the members all have ice cream names. Ebony is dubbed a plain "ice cream sandwich", and Bianca is mortified when Ebony wears boys' super hero short sets and pretends to deflect the words of the crew with her Wonder Woman bracelets, complete with "pew! pew!" sound effects. As the situation with her grandfather worsens but isn't explained to her, Ebony plots her trip home, even taking the money that her grandfather has sent for a visit from her father. Since her Uncle Richard, who lives in the brownstone as well, has some issues with women, and possibly drugs and hot merchandise, Ebony's father accuses him of taking the money. Bianca's crew is trying to compete in a double-dutch and rap competition, and Ebony doesn't quite understand what they are doing, and manages to make a mess when she tries to contribute. In the end, Ebony makes some progress in accepting life in Harlem, although she must go back to Huntsville to deal with a family tragedy.
Strengths: I loved the 1984 Harlem setting, and the descriptions of the street life, as well as the dance competition, was fascinating. The north-south dichotomy of Black life is well depicted, and it's interesting that the Southern life in Ebony's case is more affluent. The inclusion of NASA history and the Black pioneers in the field is great. Bianca's family is a good support for Ebony, taking her to church and watching out for her as she lives a typically 1980s latch key child life; her father doesn't enroll her in all of the summer camps her mother suggests! The cover is fantastic, and I love that this is set in the city but is not "gritty". There are a few comic strip style panels throughout the book that tell Ebony's sci fi version of her life.
Weaknesses: Ebony's "imagination" was so intertwined with her real life experiences that at several points I thought there would be a discussion of some mental issues. It often made understanding scenes difficult, since Ebony's space adventures were interposed with what was actually happening. Also, the print in the ARC is smaller than usual for middle grade novels; I always feel weird mentioning this, but I can't tell you the number of times I hand a book to a student and it's handed back because the print is "too small".
What I really think: Really debating and may wait to see a finished copy before purchasing.

This week's experiment of seeing the study groups was not a great one. At the beginning of the year, the groups had 20-30 students, and the idea was to take the pressure off Language Arts teachers, who are dealing with shorter periods. In years past, they have brought students once a week for a brief lesson and to get books.

Instead, we are going to see the LA classes on a seven day rotation. This also helps, since I see one grade a day. Since each grade has a slightly different schedule, this will help.

More casual again with L.L. Bean gingham blouse ($2) and vintage (1980s) khaki skirt with pockets. I worked for a year in the houseware department of Lazarus in downtown Cincinnati, and always feel not quite professional unless my outfit consists of three pieces. Back in the day, all of us in housewares just kept a blazer at the store to slip on.
Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment