Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Some Places More Than Others

Watson, RenĂ©e. Some Places More Than Others
September 3rd 2019 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Amara lives in Beaverton, Oregon with her mother, who is a fashion designer and runs a boutique, and her father, who is an executive for Nike and travels a lot. He also gets good deals on the latest shoes, which is great for Amara, who is a bit of a sneakerhead. She doesn't appreciate her mother's clothing, preferring a more casual style. She knows that her father and grandfather, who lives in Harlem, NYC, don't talk much, but she really wants to visit the city and see something besides Oregon. Her mother is expecting a baby, after a lot of disappointments, and Amara is determined to visit before the baby comes. Eventually, her parents decide she can go as a birthday present. She is thrilled to visit her grandfather's brownstone, and enjoys traveling around the city with her slightly older cousins, who are not thrilled to have to "babysit" her. She soaks up the Black culture and takes lots of pictures for her school project, a "suitcase" of memories and family stories. There are some mishaps, like when she tries to find the Nuyorican cafe where her father read his poems, but she has a good visit connecting with her family and learning about its history.
Strengths: Family issues, such as the one that Amara's father and grandfather have (grandfather was a coach for the Knicks; father wrote poetry that wasn't appreciated) are not covered as much in middle grade literature as are more traumatic events, so this was interesting to see. My students will be thrilled to see middle class, suburban African Americans; while this is more common now, a large percentage of books with African American characters are set in the inner city, and my students want to see themselves reflected in books occasionally. Amara's grandmother died the day she was born, and this is also realistic. The big seller for this book is the description of New York City and the inclusion of so much Black history.
Weaknesses: A bit slow. I wish that Amara hadn't had to argue for so long with her parents, and that the book jumped into the New York trip more quickly.
What I really think:Watson is a popular author in my library (students particularly like This Side of Home), so I will purchase this.

Note to young people: denim dresses are actually more comfortable than leggings and can be topped with a professional looking jacket!

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