I used this in a cataloging course. For being published in 1986, this book offers hella liberal views on masturbation, homosexuality, and other delighI used this in a cataloging course. For being published in 1986, this book offers hella liberal views on masturbation, homosexuality, and other delightful topics. It makes me want to donate a gazillion dollars to Planned Parenthood....more
***Read as part of the Chicago Public Schools 2014 Battle of the Books List***
I loved this book, and you can tell Blue Balliett is a Chicago teacher.***Read as part of the Chicago Public Schools 2014 Battle of the Books List***
I loved this book, and you can tell Blue Balliett is a Chicago teacher. I felt like Early Pearl could be one of my students, and that the woes facing her family are so authentic. It is a little problematic that this story is being told by a white woman, but Hold Fast gives me hope that the voices of homeless children of color will be heard. ...more
This book is devastating, especially when I read it from the perspective of a Chicago Public School teacher on the South Side. The story is told by anThis book is devastating, especially when I read it from the perspective of a Chicago Public School teacher on the South Side. The story is told by an eleven-year-old boy named Roger, who seeks to answer one simple question: Why was Yummy the way he was? He gets answers from his classmates, his teachers, the news, and President Clinton himself - but he never gets a clear answer. Roger's own brother is a member of the Black Disciplines Nation - what happens to his brother in the end?
Everyone in Chicago must read this, especially against the backdrop of school closings. Schools are the safe havens from gang violence. They are the spaces that keep children from being murdered, and teachers are giving children the tools to get themselves out of these hells. ...more
This book is a great start, but it's way too short - 82 pages is barely a dent in the large, complex, and horrific history of the Congo. I would listThis book is a great start, but it's way too short - 82 pages is barely a dent in the large, complex, and horrific history of the Congo. I would list it as a useful stepping-stone or primer for people who want to educate themselves about Joseph Kony and get some context around Kony 2012 - but there are other sources that are direly needed. ...more
I think this play summarizes in a nutshell the severe emotional trauma that South American dictatorships wrought upon the continent, even if it's justI think this play summarizes in a nutshell the severe emotional trauma that South American dictatorships wrought upon the continent, even if it's just about post-Pinochet Chile. The ultimate moral dilemma, and a discussion of who deserves to die, or mete out death as a punishment. ...more
Simeon's Story may be one of the most difficult books I've ever read. Simeon Wright was the cousin of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy murdered by whiSimeon's Story may be one of the most difficult books I've ever read. Simeon Wright was the cousin of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy murdered by white supremacists. Mr. Wright describes the actual event, and how its aftermath haunted both him and his family in the following years.
Wright's narrative is very simple and straightforward, but I left this book feeling like my heart and my lungs were crushed. I can't imagine carrying such rage and grief inside for a whole life, just as much as it kills me inside to think that 14-year-old boys are sentenced to death for the stupidest reasons. The chapter that actually describes the moment that Emmett Till was kidnapped from the Wright home should be read in every American classroom - and I did indeed share it in mine.
Teachers and Librarians, make this memoir a critical first-person text in your dialogues on the long-term, shattering effects of racism. ...more
True story: I'm an ex-suburbanite happily living in Chicago - or as I like to think of it, a "rehabbed" suburbanite. I mean that quite literally: moviTrue story: I'm an ex-suburbanite happily living in Chicago - or as I like to think of it, a "rehabbed" suburbanite. I mean that quite literally: moving out of the suburbs was like attending rehab, in that I had to detoxify myself of ugly suburban ignorance tied to classism and white privilege. So when I saw a book entitled "Bomb the Suburbs", I was all about that shit: "YES, PLEASE.[fistpump]" Alas, fellow Chicagoan William "Upski" Wimsatt was really referring to bombing as in graffiti-bombing.
Okay, cool, I thought, but who is Upski? Turns out he's a DIY journalist and political activist from my hometown, which means I immediately have love for him. But, he also happens to be white. I approached this book with some hesitation because of this: how can a white person write about hip-hop? (That, and I really do know absolutely nothing about hip-hop itself.) Upski never hides his whiteness though - he remains an unapologetic and respectful observer of urban culture. He also uses his unique position to make some very solid observations about how graffiti and hip-hop become diluted and propagated by suburbanites. He certainly describes well how white privilege has infiltrated and corporatized something owned and created DIY by urban communities.
But why only three stars? Merely describing just wasn't enough for me. I felt he could've done more. But I could see a lot of inklings of good observations and ideas that weren't followed through upon. Perhaps at the time of publication, Upski wasn't yet mature enough to tackle the topics he brings up. Or maybe I didn't get it. Maybe I'm the wrong audience for this book - even though I'm a librarian in a Chicago public school, 100% African American and low-income. I could see how there's a lapse in experience and knowledge for me to fully appreciate this book. But still, I want to peruse more of his work, to see how these ideas are delved into. ...more
This book is so simple and yet so amazing. I can't wait to teach it to my students, I know they'll be as moved as I am during our Facing History unitThis book is so simple and yet so amazing. I can't wait to teach it to my students, I know they'll be as moved as I am during our Facing History unit on School Integration. ...more
This is one of those books that gives you the urge to call a press conference after you finish it, so you can tell everyone how freaking important itThis is one of those books that gives you the urge to call a press conference after you finish it, so you can tell everyone how freaking important it is. I'm so glad I just bought this for my school library, because damn, Cory Doctorow knows what's up! This book freakishly resembles its dystopian godfather 1984, until you consider its source material. O'Brien and the Ministry of Love are now real, and our democratically elected officials have made it that way. It's mindboggling to think that this shit HAPPENS. This is not a dystopia!
As a librarian, I distinctly felt the call to action in this tale of major city's transformation after a terrorist attack. I'm horrified to see librarians get put on trial for refusing to release patron records, or having to defend their jobs as freedom fighters in the information era. ...more
You know what people? I think we've found the new "Catcher in the Rye" in "Absolutely True...". This book should be the NEW required reading for beingYou know what people? I think we've found the new "Catcher in the Rye" in "Absolutely True...". This book should be the NEW required reading for being a young American Citizen, and here's why:
Arnold "Junior" Spirit is the new Holden Caulfield, and thank God for that. By that, I mean we need him as a replacement, not a facsimile. Fuck Holden Caulfield. There, I said it. Fuck him all the way back to the 60s. As a citizen of Generation Y, I have a personal vendetta against HC, in a Frank Portman kind of way (though "King Dork" was definitely not the first text to state it). I appreciate Salinger's role in creating the wonderfully depressing oeuvre of young adult fiction - a unique literary niche for readers just beginning to reach the vast emotions of adulthood. I know that back in the day, HC was something quite different. But I think it's time for a change, and Junior is it.
Junior's an exciting new model for young adult characters: he's fresh, honest, and relevant. He captures the wonderful mix of sarcasm and sensitivity of a teenager, without being completely unlikeable, like Holden. Sherman Alexie's narrative style is mindblowing - at first you're laughing hysterically, and suddenly you pause to understand there's an awful reason why you're laughing. There are some hard truths in the story, about race, poverty, drinking, drugs, death, and hope. It's a frank observation of race privilege without being preachy. It's uniquely positioned to start a new conversation about the education disparities faced in rural communities, especially those segregated and ghettoized on reservations or poor urban neighborhoods. It's got huge potential, and we need to tap into it. Much of the required reading in the US is about white people, and that desperately needs to change. We're systematically alienating 75% of the country with literature. This is the book to change that. We're killing young readers early with it.
But "Absolutely True..." doesn't win awards just for being different - it wins because it taps into some familiar YA territory and then slaps it awake! Alexie's gracefully taken on the utter pain and isolation of being a discriminated young person, and infused great hope.
And you know what? The're no hope in Holden Caulfield, so fuck him. Long live Junior. That's all. ...more