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Search tags: WeNeedDiverseBooks
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review 2017-07-24 23:51
All American Boys
All American Boys - Brendan Kiely,Jason Reynolds

All American Boys follows two young men - one African American, one Caucasian - after an incident of racist police brutality.  Rashad, who is innocent, is beaten severely enough to be hospitalized by a White police officer who claimed he was stealing a bag of chips from a convenient store.  Quinn observes the incident and then struggles with whether to let people know that he was there.


Set in a generic small city or large town named Springfield, the story could be taking place anywhere in today’s America.  I’ve been hearing about this book from teacher and librarian bloggers since its release in 2015 and thought it would be a good fit for the optional 4th of July Booklikes-opoly Americana book selection.


Co-authored by African American author Jason Reynolds and Caucasian author Brendan Keily, All American Boys could qualify as an #OwnVoices book.  However, I feel like All American Boys was written more as a parable to explain to Caucasian readers why this topic is important than as a book for African American readers to see themselves.  While I found the book compelling, at times All American Boy almost crosses the line to polemic and the moralizing is a bit too blatant to these adult eyes.


In the end, All American Boys is a timely memorial to Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tarika Wilson, Keith Childress and the countless other young African Americans who are disproportionately dying at the hands of police. Despite my quibbles, All American Boys admirably serves as a potential avenue to start the conversation with young adults about this complex topic.

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review 2016-09-19 01:04
The Shadowed Sun
The Shadowed Sun - N.K. Jemisin

Some fantasy worlds feature elves and other mythological beings wandering around a pseudo-medieval Europe (think Tolkien and all those who have come around and after).  There are also fantasy worlds where whole new cultures are developed from a few assumptions about how magic or psychic forces or co-existing non-humans would influence the people.  While certain elements of the world of N. K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun are can loosely be traced to ancient Egyptian culture, these books are firmly in the 2nd category. And what a world! With dream magic, healing magic, and death magic centered around Hananja, Goddess of the Moon in Gujaareh the City of Peace.


The Shadowed Sun, the 2nd book in the Dreamblood Chronicles, takes place 10 years after the events of The Killing Moon. While The Shadowed Sun follows new protagonists - Hanani, the first female Sharer/Dreamhealer,  Prince Wanahomen, fugitive son of the old king, and Tiaanet, daughter to a scheming member of the merchant class - Jemisin makes liberal use of cameos of the main players from inThe Killing Moon to set the stage and to move the story along.  


I loved The Shadowed Sun, even though parts of the story turn on difficult or troubling subjects – the misbegotten product of incest and an attempted rape take key roles in the story.  I wasn’t aware of it until reading other blogger reviews, but Ms. Jemisin talked about the conscious decision to include rape on her blog and her reasoning is worth reading.


The Shadowed Sun kept me up much too late two work-nights running.  I just couldn’t put it down.  I’m now officially an N.K. Jemisin fangirl.  It will take a while before I get through the stack of books in the queue before them, but I am very much looking forward to seeing the world Ms. Jemisin built in The Broken Earth Trilogy, the second book of which just released in August 2016.

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review 2016-09-04 03:39
Words in the Dust
Words in the Dust - Trent Reedy

I listened to Words in the Dust a few weeks ago, and needed some time to process Trent Reedy's debut novel before posting.   Words in the Dust  is the story of Zulaikha, a young Afghani girl with a cleft lip, and her sister Zeynab in post-Taliban Afganistan.  The core events of the story are based on several incidents that occurred while Mr. Reedy was serving with a US National Guard Provincial Reconstruction Team in rural Afghanistan. There are so many potential problems writing about a foreign culture, especially when writing for young adults, and Mr. Reedy does an admirable job of avoiding them.


I very much enjoyed Ariana Delawari's narration/reading.  But in many ways the highlight of the volume is the author and narrator interviews at the end, especially when he talked about how conscious he was of the pitfalls of trying to write the story of an Afghani girl when he was neither female nor Afghan.


While Scholastic recommends this book for readers in Grads 3 - 7, based on disturbing parts of the story, I would recommend this book for Grad 6 and above unless in the context of a partner read with an adult.


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review 2016-01-30 02:38
2016 Newbury Award Winner
Last Stop on Market Street - Matt de la Peña,Christian Robinson

I'm a bit confused - I agree that Last Stop on Market Street is a good book that deserves to be rewarded,  but how did a picture book written with a complexity appropriate to the lower elementary grades win the award for the most distinguished work of children's literature in 2016? Good book, yes.  Deserves to be shared. Yes.  The best work of literature in 2016?  Not in my book.



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review 2016-01-04 01:59
The Killing Moon
The Killing Moon - N.K. Jemisin

I love N.K. Jemisin's world building even though I had a hard time keeping the various castes straight an following the first 3rd of the story. But once the two strands of the story met and intertwines, I was just swept along.  


As a side-note, I was surprise to find more than a dozen books published in the last 10 years titled The Killing Moon, A Killing Moon or just Killing Moon.

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