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review 2017-08-20 15:45
Monster - Walter Dean Myers

I am very torn with how to rate and review this book. I think this book did a lot of important things. However, I wouldn't say I necessarily liked the book itself.

I really disliked the format. It was an unique choice, but I personally wasn't a fan. The movie-style format made it rather dull for me and often very confusing.

I do think that at the time it was written, it was very significant that the main character was a black teenager. Even today, there are not as many books that follow characters of color as there should be. So the fact this one was published, won so many awards, and was so acclaimed at the time is very impressive.

Story-wise I followed most of it, but there were sections I had to re-read, because they were too vague. The ending was pretty predictable. I was more concerned with why Steve was being charged with felony murder in the first place when he may or may not had a very minimal roll in the robbery. But I suppose that was part of the point of showing how black men are treated in the criminal justice system.

Because of the style, it's a fairly quick read. I really liked the conflict of character that Steve faces and the concept of being a monster. But I don't think it was expressed as much as it could have been if it had been written in a different format.

Again, I think this book did a lot of important things, but I wouldn't say I liked it. However, I still recommend reading it for its significance.
It is an important representation of court trails and jail from the perspective of a black teenager, especially considering it was written for young readers almost 20 years ago.

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review 2016-10-03 18:51
Autobiography of My Dead Brother - Walter Dean Myers, Christopher Myers
Autobiography of My Dead Brother - Walter Dean Myers,Christopher Myers

I had trouble relating to the text, probably because it was so realistic. The art got me through. I would probably have enjoyed it more thirty years ago when I liked harsh truths, and didn't have kids.


Library copy



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review 2016-10-01 03:24
Juba! - Walter Dean Myers

Middle-grade or YA Historical fiction.  Adequate novelization of the story of African-American dancer William Henry Lane (aka Master Juba) in the first half of the 1800's in New York City.  Juba's claim to fame came because of his chance encounter with Charles Dickens, and the subsequent review in Dicken's American Notes. Juba danced in England in the 1850's. It didn't turn out well in the end, but I'll let you read the book to find out why. 


In some ways the excerpts from historical documents are the best part of the book. I found the story a bit dry, and it took me two tries to finish Juba! 


I'd not previously heard of Walter Dean Myers. Juba! has attracted some attention as being Mr. Meyer's last novel, as it was drafted and I believe in production when Mr. Meyers passed away in 2014. 




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review 2016-08-08 00:00
Juba! - Walter Dean Myers This is fairly interesting. I liked it but not as much as some of this author’s other books that I’ve read. It has a laid back feel for the most part and tells of a black man’s journey during the times of slavery. Although it’s during that time, it doesn’t deal with slavery much. Juba is a talented dancer finding his way in the world.
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text 2016-03-21 02:21
Text Annotation
Monster - Walter Dean Myers


Myers, W. D. (1999). At her majesty's request: An African princess in Victorian England. New York: Scholastic Press.
Annotation: Young, black 16-year-old Steve Harmon, an amateur filmmaker, is on trial for the murder of a Harlem drugstore owner and could face the death penalty. Steve copes by writing a movie script based on his trial. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred until he can no longer tell who he is or what the truth is.
Author's Information:

Walter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of more than eighty books for children and young adults, including Sunrise Over Fallujah, Fallen Angels, Monster, Somewhere in the Darkness, Slam!, Jazz, and Harlem. Mr. Myers has received two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and the inaugural recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. In addition, he was the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award and the 1994 recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring an author for a "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature." He is considered one of the preeminent writers for children.

In 2012, Walter Dean Myers was named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. The National Ambassador program, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council, was established in 2008 with the naming of Jon Scieszka for the first two-year term. Candidates are selected based on their contribution to young people’s literature and their ability to relate to children.

Walter began writing at an early age. "I was a good student, but a speech impediment was causing problems. One of my teachers decided that I couldn't pronounce certain words at all. She thought that if I wrote something, I would use words I could pronounce. I began writing little poems. I began to write short stories, too." Realizing that his family would not be able to afford college, Walter joined the Army on his seventeenth birthday. When he got out, he worked various jobs and he wrote at night. "I wrote for magazines," says Walter. "I wrote adventure stuff, I wrote for the National Enquirer, I wrote advertising copy for cemeteries." A winning contest entry with the Council on Interracial Books for Children became his first book, Where Does the Day Go?

Amiri and Odette: A Love Story is a modern retelling of Swan Lake. "I had seen the ballet of Swan Lake as a child but it was as an adult, when I saw a production featuring Erik Bruhn, that I first noticed how significant a part the ever-present threat of violence played. This juxtaposition of great beauty and grace with a backdrop of pure evil stayed with me for years. As a writer, I absorb stories, allow them to churn within my own head and heart — often for years — until I find a way of telling them that fits both my time and temperament. In listening to Pyotr Tchaikovsky's score," Walter continues, "I found the violence muted, but slowly, in my head, the sometimes jarring rhythms of modern jazz and hip-hop began to intervene. I asked myself if there were modern dangers to young people similar to the magic spells of folklore. The answer of course, was a resounding yes, and I began to craft a modern, urban retelling of the Swan Lake ballet." 

"I so love writing," says Walter. "It is not something that I am doing just for a living, this is something that I love to do. When I work, what I'll do is outline the story first. That forces me to do the thinking. I cut out pictures of all my characters and my wife puts them into a collage, which goes on the wall above the computer. When I walk into that room, I see the characters, and I just get very close to them. I rush through a first draft, and then I go back and rewrite, because I can usually see what the problems are going to be ahead of me. Rewriting is a lot more fun for me than the writing is."

Walter Dean Myers died in New York City on July 1, 2014 after a brief illness.


Awards: New York Times Best Selling Novel, National Book Award Nominee

Reading Level: 9-12 grade level

Genre: Realistic Fiction Young Adult

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