Showing posts from July, 2014

One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

In my continuous adventures of black YA fiction, I discovered these stories that took me back to the childhood of my big brothers and sisters - 1968.  I would have been a little younger than the baby sister, Ferm AKA Little Girl AKA Afua and would have been absorbing all the changes happening around me.  I would four years old in 1968, the year my mother died, the year the world changed, the year that helped usher in the moving Black Power movements of the 1970s and young people stepping courageously out into the world won through the Civil Rights Movement. One Crazy Summer finds the three sisters - Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern - being sent from their home in BedSty, New York to their barely remembered poet mother in Oakland, Carlifornia. When I first purchased the book for my daughters, I almost put it down because I didn't want them to read stories about an absent mother.  I'm glad I overcame my initial reservation and allowed myself to be transported back in time that is

no laughter here by Rita Williams-Garcia

I must say that I have enjoyed my "summer vacation" through middle grade and YA literature. Yesterday, I picked up the book, no laughter here by Rita Williams-Garcia.  I decided to do something I hadn't done in a while - read aloud with my 10 and 12 year old daughters.  It was a good thing I did. This tender age is filled with wonder and questions, friendship and laughter, crushes and questions.  In the summer before fifth grade (exactly where my 10 year old is right now) something changed between Akilah (the protagonist) and her friend Victoria. My daughter loves to hang out with her friends from school and church. Through the wonders of modern technology, like when this book was set, they were able to keep in touch through vacation trips.  The girls in this book promised to write each other across the Atlantic as Victoria (Queen Victoria, according to her) traveled to her family's ancestral village in Nigeria to undergo a rite-of-passage. Like all girls with

A Summer With Hurston & Hughes Literary Circle

It has been a pleasure to deviate from my literary criticisms of African American female literary works to step back into my youth and explore the wonders of African American youth fiction. The recent commentary regarding the importance of diverse characters in children's literature, the all-white book panel at the children's trade book fair in New York, and the overwhelming whiteness of teen/tween books prompted me to set about uncovering the works that are there, sending my manuscript to my publisher, and supporting a group of teen writers to keep their passion for this craft we love. I founded the Hurston & Hughes Literary Circle to first encourage these teens to discover works their mainstream middle and high schools would ignore and to help them form a like-minded peer group of fellow bibliophiles. The summer has not been disappointing. They explored poetry works by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes before delving into the realistic fictio