Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Child of the Dream

Robinson, Sharon. Child of the Dream
September 3rd 2019 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this fiction-style memoir, Robinson recounts the personal and world events that occurred when she turned 13 in 1963. Sharon's father, baseball player Jackie Robinson, was hospitalized for a leg injury that became infected and worsened due to his diabetes, her older brother is having difficulties and runs away from home, and has to come to terms with the growing racial tensions in the US and how they affect her. This is especially important when George Wallace declares "Segregation forever!" and her father gets involved in various marches and demonstrations. Sharon starts to examine her own life, which is vastly different from the situations African Americans were facing in the South. Her family lives in a predominately white community, and she may even be bused to a mainly black school as part of local desegregation plans! She does have one African American friend, Candy, and she attends a local Jack and Jill social hour, where she gets more information about Civil Rights movement activities as well. This book also offers a glimpse of the Robinson's family life, with Sharon riding her horse, learning to knit and baking with her grandmother, and dealing with Jackie, Jr.'s behavior. There is a nice selection of family photographs as well. She wants to do more to help, and is inspired by the Children's March in the spring of 1963 and was present at Dr. Martin Luther King 's "I Have a Dream" speech in August of that year.
Strengths: As many times as classes have listened to the "I Have a Dream" speech, students are bound to be fascinated by a first hand account! What it was like to be there, and to be at so many pivotal moments in the Civil Rights movement in "front row seats" because of her father... wow. Like Shabazz's Betty Before X or English's It All Comes Down to This, it's great to have a book that covers first hand details of what it was like to be a teenager at this point in history. It wasn't all just Important Historical Events, either: I loved the details of the horse riding and reading of Marguerite Henry! And of course, the close up view of Jackie Robinson is touching and fascinating-- I didn't know that he became an executive in the Chock Full o' Nuts coffee company! (Which still exists. Who knew?)
Weaknesses: Some of the conversation is oddly stilted, which surprised me. Perhaps it's harder to write based on personal experiences. Slam Dunk and Safe at Home are still books that are popular with my readers, and I don't remember any similar problems in The Hero Two Doors Down. Also, this was an ARC, so maybe things will be tweaked.
What I really think: I love memoirs and biographies and wish that my students would read more of them. This is an excellent one to hand to students who are reluctant to pick up memoirs, since it reads much like a novel. It will also be perfect for the Civil Rights and Decades projects that are frequently assigned by language arts teachers

Ms. Yingling

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