Read Across America Day – Friday, March 2nd

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Read Across America Day – Friday, March 2nd.


One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Hello again! Sorry for the delay, the month of February is just screaming by! For this entry I decided to look at Rita Williams-Garcia who won the Coretta Scott King Honor Author for Like Sisters on the Homefront. I read another title by her, One Crazy Summer.

This is a story of three sisters, Delphine (11), Vonetta (9), and Fern (7). These three girls travel to see their mother, Cecile (Nzila), in Oakland, California in the summer of 1968. Cecile abandoned her daughters shortly after Fern was born and moved to California to write her poetry and has become involved with the Black Panther movement, although she remains mostly on the fringes. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern don’t know their mother and although they hope that this trip will forge some kind of bond between them that has been missing all these years, Delphine in particular does not have her hopes up.

Rita Williams-Garcia weaves a fun and beautiful story about the relationships between sisters, mothers and daughters, and the social reform that was occurring in California at this time. As outsiders to the movement, and raised by a family of Southern Blacks, the girls have an outsiders view of the Black Panther movement and the effects it had on the youth of the community. Although it deals with some tough topics (abandonment, social issues, and white/black relationships) this book has found a balance in both humor and seriousness. The sister’s relationship and the way they talk to each other is fun to read and fun to interpret.

I would recommend this book to people interested in the 1960’s social reform movement or anyone looking for a good book about family relationships. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Quick Facts:

Author: Rita Williams-Garcia

Title: One Crazy Summer

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, New York

Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill; Illustrated by Bryan Collier

To continue with those winners or honorees of the Coretta Scott King Award, I’ve chosen Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick; illustrated by Bryan Collier. Bryan Collier was the winner of the Coretta Scott King Award in 2010, and a brief look at this picture book/biography will tell you why.

Based on the artwork of Dave, an artist and slave living in South Carolina during the 1800’s, the author and illustrator have created a beautifully articulated and crafted book that shows not only the beauty of pottery and in creating it, but also the freeing nature of artwork, particularly to one who is enslaved.

Dave was not only a potter, he was also a poet. He wrote on a number of his pieces small poems that highlight his nature, his surroundings, and his servitude. No more than two lines, these poems have also been honored in this piece of work as the writer has drawn upon Dave’s own inspiration to try and tell his story.

Included in the back of this book is information about Dave, all his poems, and how he has inspired both the writer and illustrator in their own lives. Bryan Collier blends both watercolors and collage images in this beautiful tale of finding freedom in the darkest of places. I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn more about a noble man whos spirit and art has spoken through the ages.

Quick Facts

Author: Laban Carrick Hill

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Ages: Kindergarten and up

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, New York, New York

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

I’m BAAACCCKK!! So after a very long time of dead silence on my end, I finally have found time to get back to some blogging. Mostly, I’ve found time to get back to some organized reading more than anything else. And in honor of Black History Month, I’ve decided to look at authors and illustrators who have been winners or honors of the Coretta Scott King Award. I’m going to start off with a book I’ve been looking forward to reading since it hit our shelves, Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon.

This is the only project ever to be endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston trust that was written by someone other than Zora Neale Hurston. It is a fantastic story about a young Zora and her two friends, Carrie and Teddy. The story is told from Carrie’s point of view, which adds to the readers view of Zora. We are given insights and thoughts about her from her friend’s perspective, it adds more depth to her character than a first person narrative by Zora would have. It also is in true form to Ms. Hurston, an aloof character in African-American literary history whose impact is still felt today.

The story is set in Eatonville, Florida, which was the first incorporated African-American town in the United States, and the actual location of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood. “Gator Mythology” is in full swing in this story, as well as the storytelling prowess and creativity that Zora would produce in her published writing later life. Zora is seen as a “liar” and “tale spinner” by everyone except for those who know her best (Carrie, Teddy, Zora’s mother, etc.) who realize that Zora interprets the world around her the best that she knows how. And, most of the time, her stories not only make sense but are true, if one digs deep enough.

This story is very multi-layered. It has a fun side with the friendship between the three main characters and their want for adventure of any kind in their small town. It deals with racial issues when the neighboring white settlement and Eatonville need to interact in any way. It deals with loss, as Carrie struggles to deal with the disappearance of her father. It looks at identity issues as the character of Gold comes to grips with her true self upon the loss of her brother. Finally, it deals with outlook, as the three children discover that people are not always what they appear; there is always something more to another human being than what people take for granted.

A great book with a bit of mystery, intrigue, mythology, fantasy, and history all rolled into one. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston or anyone who may be interested in a good mystery.

Quick Facts:

Author: Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon

Awards: Coretta Scott King Award

Ages: Grades 3-5

Publisher: Candlewick Press, Crawfordsville, IN