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Text Annotation

Junebug - Alice Mead

Citation: Mead, A. (2009). Junebug. Square Fish.

 

Annotation:

"Some of the stuff that goes on in the Auburn Street Projects, I'm never gonna do. These projects are like some kind of never-never land, like they never got put on a regular map. Nobody comes around here on purpose. It's as if we all got lost, right in the middle of the city."

Reeve McClain, Jr.--Junebug--has decided to skip his birthday. Since ten is the age when boys in the projects are forced to join gangs or are ensnared by drug dealers, Junebug would rather remain nine. Still, he does have a birthday wish: to someday become a ship's captain and sail away. So Junebug comes up with a plan to launch a flotilla, fifty glass bottles containing notes with his wish, in the hope that someone somewhere will help to make his dream come true.

 

Author's Information: I had an unusually healthy childhood-sailing across the ocean on a steamship at age 7, visiting England,Scotland, and Norway, and playing endlessly with my dollhouse, which perhaps eventually lead to writing many books for children. Because I live in a refugee resettlement city Portland, ME, I wrote about displaced kids from war areas, Sudan, Kurdistan, and Kosovo. I was also an art teacher. The book, Soldier Mom, now 20 years old, was written during the first Gulf War, when we suddenly used a "reserve" army instead of an enlisted one. I had two active sons, dogs, rabbit, chameleon, hamster and later assisted 40 Kosova high school students. I loved gardening, painting, reading. But suddenly began to hurt everywhere, falling, weak. Nothing helped.I had to leave my job as an art teacher but was still able to write.
Nearly twenty years (plus a bout with severe cancer) into feeling weak, I now know I have Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease that affects your eyes, breathing, endurance and speech.
I still write, paint, sing, practice my standup comedy, and take photographs. Really nothing inside me has changed at all. I fight to improve, laugh over the silliness of ordinary life, and am curious about all sorts of things.

 

Rewards: None

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

Genre: Fiction

Text Annotation

Junebug in Trouble - Alice Mead

Citation: Mead, A. (2002). Junebug in trouble. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

 

Annotation: It's Labor Day weekend, and Junebug hasn't seen his friend Robert since May, when Junebug's family moved from their housing project. Now, Mama, Tasha, Harriet, and Junebug are off to the beach for a reunion. Robert is there, but so is Trevor, another boy from the housing project who is a gang member with a gun. With Junebug gone, Trevor easily befriended Robert and is luring him to join the gang. Can Junebug stop Robert?

 

Author's Information: I had an unusually healthy childhood-sailing across the ocean on a steamship at age 7, visiting England,Scotland, and Norway, and playing endlessly with my dollhouse, which perhaps eventually lead to writing many books for children. Because I live in a refugee resettlement city Portland, ME, I wrote about displaced kids from war areas, Sudan, Kurdistan, and Kosovo. I was also an art teacher. The book, Soldier Mom, now 20 years old, was written during the first Gulf War, when we suddenly used a "reserve" army instead of an enlisted one. I had two active sons, dogs, rabbit, chameleon, hamster and later assisted 40 Kosova high school students. I loved gardening, painting, reading. But suddenly began to hurt everywhere, falling, weak. Nothing helped.I had to leave my job as an art teacher but was still able to write.
Nearly twenty years (plus a bout with severe cancer) into feeling weak, I now know I have Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease that affects your eyes, breathing, endurance and speech.
I still write, paint, sing, practice my standup comedy, and take photographs. Really nothing inside me has changed at all. I fight to improve, laugh over the silliness of ordinary life, and am curious about all sorts of things.

 

Rewards: None

Reading Level: Grades 4-7

Genre: Fiction

 

Text Annotation

Leon's Story - Leon Walter Tillage, Susan L. Roth

Citation: Jones, J. (1909). Leo's story. London: Religious Tract Society.

 

Annotation: Leon Tillage grew up the son of a sharecropper in a small town in North Carolina. Told in vignettes, this is his story about walking four miles to the school for black children, and watching a school bus full of white children go past. It's about his being forced to sit in the balcony at the movie theater, hiding all night when the Klansmen came riding, and worse. Much worse.


But it is also the story of a strong family and the love that bound them together. And, finally, it's about working to change an oppressive existence by joining the civil rights movement. Edited from recorded interviews conducted by Susan L. Roth, Leon's story will stay with readers long after they have finished his powerful account.

 

Author's Information: Leon Walter Tillage lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he has worked for thirty years as a custodian at The Park School.
Susan L. Roth's many picture books include "Ishi's Tale of Lizard," which was an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists. She lives in Great Neck, New York. 

 

Reward: winner of the 1998 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction.

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

Genre: Autobiography Nonfiction

 

Text Annotation

Money Hungry - Sharon G. Flake

Citation:

Flake, S. (2001). Money hungry. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books For Children.

 

Annotation: Thirteen-year-old Raspberry Hill is starved for money. She will do just about anything legal to get her hands on the almighty dollar. Memories of being homeless, sleeping in the streets, and eating from handouts keep Raspberry's eye on the only prize that matters to her: cold, hard cash.

But even money can't answer the questions that keep Raspberry awake at night. Will she and Momma ever move out of the projects? What did Ja'nae do with the two hundred bucks Raspberry loaned her? And what's really going on with Momma and that rich doctor?

This unforgettable novel will keep you glued to each and every page. Bank on it.

 

Author's Information: Sharon G. Flake exploded onto the literary scene with her novel The Skin I'm In, in 1998, and was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Since then she has become a multiple Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award winner and has been hailed as the voice of middle-grade youth and a Rising Star by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Many of Sharon’s novels have received ALA Notable and Best Books for Young Adults citations from the American Library Association. Her writing has been applauded for its on-point narrative that explores issues affecting teens from all walks of life. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Reward:

  • Coretta Scott King Honor Award
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh One Community One Book
  • Starred review in Booklist Magazine
  • New York Public Library Top Ten Books for the Teen Age
  • LA Times Recommended Books for Teens
  • Carolyn Field Honor Book

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Text Annotation

Pinned - Sharon G. Flake

Citation: Flake, S. (2012). Pinned. New York: Scholastic Press.

 

Annotation: Award-winning author, Sharon G. Flake, presents a powerful novel about a teen boy and girl, each tackling disabilities.

Autumn and Adonis have nothing in common and everything in common. Autumn is outgoing and has lots of friends. Adonis is shy and not so eager to connect with people. But even with their differences, the two have one thing in common--they're each dealing with a handicap. For Autumn, who has a learning disability, reading is a painful struggle that makes it hard to focus in class. But as her school's most aggressive team wrestler, Autumn can take down any problem. Adonis is confined to a wheelchair. He has no legs. He can't walk or dance. But he's a strong reader who loves books. Even so, Adonis has a secret he knows someone like Autumn can heal.

In time, Autumn and Adonis are forced to see that our greatest weaknesses can turn into the assets that forever change us and those we love.

Told in alternating voices, Takedown explores issues of self-discovery, friendship, and what it means to be different.

 

Author's Information: Sharon G. Flake exploded onto the literary scene with her novel The Skin I'm In, in 1998, and was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Since then she has become a multiple Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award winner and has been hailed as the voice of middle-grade youth and a Rising Star by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Many of Sharon’s novels have received ALA Notable and Best Books for Young Adults citations from the American Library Association. Her writing has been applauded for its on-point narrative that explores issues affecting teens from all walks of life. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Rewards:

2014

  • Novel selected for Viacom’s Get Schooled National Summer Reading Book Club (1,100 middle schools and high schools to participate.)
  • Outstanding Book of the Year, Detroit Public Library
  • Florida Teen Reads List (i.e.: novel placed on the state’s suggested reading list)

 2012-2013

  • Best Books of Year for Kirkus Reviews
  • Starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Horn Book
  • NAACP Image Award Nominee
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices (CCBC) Best Books of the Year List
  • Capital Choices Noteworthy Titles for Teens
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Kansas City Reading Circle

Reading Level: Grades 5-9

Genre: Young Adult

Text Annotation

Copper Sun - Sharon M. Draper

Citation:

Draper, S. M. (2006). Copper sun. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

 

Annotation:

When pale strangers enter fifteen-year-old Amari's village, her entire tribe welcomes them; for in her remote part of Africa, visitors are always a cause for celebration. But these strangers are not here to celebrate. They are here to capture the strongest, healthiest villagers and to murder the rest. They are slave traders. And in the time it takes a gun to fire, Amari's life as she's known it is destroyed, along with her family and village.

Beaten, branded, and dragged onto a slave ship, Amari is forced to witness horrors worse than any nightmare and endure humiliations she had never thought possible — including being sold to a plantation owner in the Carolinas who gives her to his sixteen-year-old son, Clay, as his birthday present.

Now, survival and escape are all Amari dreams about. As she struggles to hold on to her memories in the face of backbreaking plantation work and daily degradation at the hands of Clay, she finds friendship in unexpected places. Polly, an outspoken indentured white girl, proves not to be as hateful as she'd first seemed upon Amari's arrival, and the plantation owner's wife, despite her trappings of luxury and demons of her own, is kind to Amari. But these small comforts can't relieve Amari's feelings of hopelessness and despair, and when an opportunity to escape presents itself, Amari and Polly decide to work together to find the thing they both want most...freedom.

Grand and sweeping in scope, detailed and penetrating in its look at the complicated interrelationships of those who live together on a plantation, Copper Sun is an unflinching and unforgettable look at the African slave trade and slavery in America.

 

Author's Information:

Sharon M. Draper is the acclaimed author of the Sassy series. She is also the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times bestsellers Copper Sun, the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner, and We Beat the Street. She also wrote Forged by Fire, the 1998 Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as Tears of a Tiger, winner of the CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and The Battle of Jericho and November Blues, both Coretta Scott King Honor Books.

Ms. Draper explains how she came to write the Sassy series. “Several years ago I met a little girl, an avid reader, who was about eight or nine years old,” she says. “Something was missing in the books available to her. She wasted no time in telling me, ‘You need to write some books for girls like me!’ Sassy was born that day. I wanted to create a little girl with both spunk and sparkle, a child with grace and glitter. Sassy and her seemingly bottomless sack are ready to greet the world with power and pizzazz!”

Ms. Draper is also a professional educator. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year and was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator and Ohio Teacher of the Year. She holds three honorary doctorates.

She has been honored at the White House six times and was chosen as one of only four authors in the nation to speak at the Library of Congress National Book Festival Gala in Washington, D.C., and to represent the United States in Moscow at their Russian Book Festival.

Ms. Draper is an accomplished public speaker who addresses educational and literary groups of all ages. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and a golden retriever named Honey.

 

Reward: received the 2007 Coretta Scott King Literature award, was named as one of the Top Ten Historical Fiction Books for Youth by Booklist was nominated for the 2007 NAACP Image Award for Literature, and received the Ohioana Award for Young Adult Literature. Copper Sun is also a CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book, received the Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature, was named as an IRA Notable Book for a Global Society and was named as Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal. Copper Sun is also listed on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Reading Level: 9-12 Grade

Genre: Adventure Historical Fiction

Text Annotation

Darkness Before Dawn - Sharon M. Draper

Citation:

Draper, S. M. (2001). Darkness before dawn. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
 
Annotation:

He's a "lemon drop wrapped in licorice": tall, dark, handsome, and as smooth as his silk shirts and leather jacket. He can discuss everything from art to world events, he's traveled the world, and he owns a Jeep, a condo, and a jazz CD collection. But best of all, twenty-three-year-old Jonathan Hathaway, the new track coach and the principal's son, has his golden eyes set on Keisha Montgomery.

In her senior year of high school, still recovering from the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, Keisha's thrilled to have someone treat her like a woman rather than a girl. As Jonathan tells her, she's a butterfly ready to try her wings — much too mature for high school boys, whose only deep thoughts are words from rap songs. Jonathan makes her feel alive again; he seems like the answer to all her dreams and the cure to all her nightmares.

Gifts wrapped with silver ribbons begin to mysteriously appear on her doorstep, and Keisha is swept off her feet. But events take a terrifying turn, and suddenly darkness overwhelms her life.... As Keisha struggles to put her world back in perspective, she learns the power and the danger of silence, and discovers the secret gifts that had been waiting for her all along.

Written by the 1997 National Teacher of the Year, this is the final volume in the Hazelwood High trilogy.

 
Author's Information:

Sharon M. Draper is the acclaimed author of the Sassy series. She is also the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times bestsellers Copper Sun, the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner, and We Beat the Street. She also wrote Forged by Fire, the 1998 Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as Tears of a Tiger, winner of the CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and The Battle of Jericho and November Blues, both Coretta Scott King Honor Books.

Ms. Draper explains how she came to write the Sassy series. “Several years ago I met a little girl, an avid reader, who was about eight or nine years old,” she says. “Something was missing in the books available to her. She wasted no time in telling me, ‘You need to write some books for girls like me!’ Sassy was born that day. I wanted to create a little girl with both spunk and sparkle, a child with grace and glitter. Sassy and her seemingly bottomless sack are ready to greet the world with power and pizzazz!”

Ms. Draper is also a professional educator. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year and was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator and Ohio Teacher of the Year. She holds three honorary doctorates.

She has been honored at the White House six times and was chosen as one of only four authors in the nation to speak at the Library of Congress National Book Festival Gala in Washington, D.C., and to represent the United States in Moscow at their Russian Book Festival.

Ms. Draper is an accomplished public speaker who addresses educational and literary groups of all ages. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and a golden retriever named Honey.

 
Rewards: none
Grade Level: 9-12 Grade
Genre: Realistic fiction
 

Text Annotation

Tears of a Tiger - Sharon M. Draper

Citation:

Draper, S. M. (1994). Tears of a tiger. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

 

Annotation:

Andy Jackson was driving the car that crashed one night after a game, killing Robert Washington, his best friend and the captain of the Hazelwood High Tigers. It was late, and they'd been drinking, and now, months later, Andy can't stop blaming himself. As he turns away from family, friends, and even his girlfriend, he finds he's losing the most precious thing of all: his ability to face the future.

With perceptiveness and compassion, Sharon Draper portrays an African-American teenager who feels driven to consider suicide in the wake of a devastating tragedy.

 

Author's Information:

Sharon M. Draper is the acclaimed author of the Sassy series. She is also the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times bestsellers Copper Sun, the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner, and We Beat the Street. She also wrote Forged by Fire, the 1998 Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as Tears of a Tiger, winner of the CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and The Battle of Jericho and November Blues, both Coretta Scott King Honor Books.

Ms. Draper explains how she came to write the Sassy series. “Several years ago I met a little girl, an avid reader, who was about eight or nine years old,” she says. “Something was missing in the books available to her. She wasted no time in telling me, ‘You need to write some books for girls like me!’ Sassy was born that day. I wanted to create a little girl with both spunk and sparkle, a child with grace and glitter. Sassy and her seemingly bottomless sack are ready to greet the world with power and pizzazz!”

Ms. Draper is also a professional educator. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year and was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator and Ohio Teacher of the Year. She holds three honorary doctorates.

She has been honored at the White House six times and was chosen as one of only four authors in the nation to speak at the Library of Congress National Book Festival Gala in Washington, D.C., and to represent the United States in Moscow at their Russian Book Festival.

Ms. Draper is an accomplished public speaker who addresses educational and literary groups of all ages. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and a golden retriever named Honey.

 

Rewards: None.

Reading Level: Grades 9-12

Genre: Series Young Adult

Text Annotation

Forged by Fire (Hazelwood High, #2) - Sharon M. Draper

Citation:

Draper, S. M. (1997). Forged by fire. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

 

Annotation:

Will Gerald find the courage to stand up to his stepfather?

When his loving aunt dies, Gerald suddenly is thrust into a new home filled with anger and abuse. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes Gerald miserable, and the only light in his grim life is Angel, his young stepsister.

Gerald and Angel grow close as he strives to protect her from Jordan, his abusive stepfather, and from their substance-addicted mother. But Gerald learns, painfully, that his post can't be extinguished, and that he must be strong enough to face Jordan in a final confrontation, once and for all...

An explosive sequel to Tears of a Tiger

 

Author's Information:

Sharon M. Draper is the acclaimed author of the Sassy series. She is also the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times bestsellers Copper Sun, the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner, and We Beat the Street. She also wrote Forged by Fire, the 1998 Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as Tears of a Tiger, winner of the CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and The Battle of Jericho and November Blues, both Coretta Scott King Honor Books.

Ms. Draper explains how she came to write the Sassy series. “Several years ago I met a little girl, an avid reader, who was about eight or nine years old,” she says. “Something was missing in the books available to her. She wasted no time in telling me, ‘You need to write some books for girls like me!’ Sassy was born that day. I wanted to create a little girl with both spunk and sparkle, a child with grace and glitter. Sassy and her seemingly bottomless sack are ready to greet the world with power and pizzazz!”

Ms. Draper is also a professional educator. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year and was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator and Ohio Teacher of the Year. She holds three honorary doctorates.

She has been honored at the White House six times and was chosen as one of only four authors in the nation to speak at the Library of Congress National Book Festival Gala in Washington, D.C., and to represent the United States in Moscow at their Russian Book Festival.

Ms. Draper is an accomplished public speaker who addresses educational and literary groups of all ages. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and a golden retriever named Honey.

 

Rewards: Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Reading Level: 9-12 grade

Genre: Realistic Fiction Young Adult

Text Annotation

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis

Citation:

Curtis, C. P. (1997). The Watson's go to Birmingham. London: Orion Children's Books.

 

Annotation:

Enter the world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watson's of Flint, Michigan. When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watson's head South to Birmingham, Alabama...toward one of the darkest moments in America's history.

A hilarious, touching, and tragic novel about civil rights and the impact of violence on one African American family.

 

Author's Information:

Christopher Paul Curtis was born and reared in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No. 1 and graduated from the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. His first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996, and Bud, Not Buddy received the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000.

His most recent book Elijah of Buxton won a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2008. "This novel came to me in a way that was far different than any other," states Curtis. "From the word 'go' Elijah and I became close friends. When I'd go to the library to write, it was as if he were anxiously waiting for me, waiting to tell about his life, his worries, his adventures."

Christopher Paul Curtis lives with his wife and two children in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

 

 

Rewards:1996 Newbery Honor Book
1996 Coretta Scott King Honor Book
An ALA Notable Book
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
The New York Times Book Review Best Book
A Horn Book Fanfare

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

Genre: Historical Fiction

Text Annotation

Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Citation:

Curtis, C. P. (1999). Bud, not Buddy. New York: Delacorte Press.

 

Annotation:

It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he's on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression! Bud's got an idea that those posters will lead to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him.

Bud, Not Buddy is full of laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful characters, hitting the high notes of jazz and sounding the deeper tones of the Great Depression.

 

Author's Information:

Christopher Paul Curtis was born and reared in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No. 1 and graduated from the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. His first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996, and Bud, Not Buddy received the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000.

His most recent book Elijah of Buxton won a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2008. "This novel came to me in a way that was far different than any other," states Curtis. "From the word 'go' Elijah and I became close friends. When I'd go to the library to write, it was as if he were anxiously waiting for me, watiing to tell about his life, his worries, his adventues."

Christopher Paul Curtis lives with his wife and two children in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

 

Rewards: none

Reading Level: Grades 5-8

Genre: Fiction

Text Annotation

The Mighty Miss Malone - Christopher Paul Curtis

Citation:

Curtis, C. P. (2012). The mighty Miss Malone. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.

 

Annotation:

From Newbery Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis comes a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel about an unforgettable struggle to survive the Great Depression.

Twelve-year-old Deza Malone has a close and loving family, and she's the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana. But times are tough, and it's hard for black men like Deza's father to find work. Desperate to help his family, Deza's father leaves town to look for work, and soon Deza, her mom, and her older brother, Jimmie, are setting off in search of him. Along the way, they experience many Depression-era hardships, including living in a shantytown and riding the rails, all the while never giving up the hope of being together again.

 

Author's Information:

Christopher Paul Curtis was born and reared in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No. 1 and graduated from the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. His first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996, and Bud, Not Buddy received the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000.

His most recent book Elijah of Buxton won a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2008. "This novel came to me in a way that was far different than any other," states Curtis. "From the word 'go' Elijah and I became close friends. When I'd go to the library to write, it was as if he were anxiously waiting for me, watiing to tell about his life, his worries, his adventues."

Christopher Paul Curtis lives with his wife and two children in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

 

Rewards: None

Reading Level: Grade 3-5

Fiction: Historical Fiction

Text Annotation

Elijah of Buxton - Christopher Paul Curtis

Citation: Curtis, C. P. (2007). Elijah of Buxton. New York: Scholastic Press.

 

Annotation:

Master storyteller Christopher Paul Curtis lends his trademark humor and vibrant narrative style to the gripping tale of eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman.

The first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit, Elijah is best known in his hometown as the boy who threw up on Frederick Douglass. (Not on purpose, of course — he was just a baby then!)

But things change when a former slave calling himself the Right Reverend Zephariah W. Connerly the Third steals money from Elijah's friend Mr. Leroy, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the south. Elijah joins Mr. Leroy on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the disreputable preacher, and he discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled — a life from which he'll always be free, if he can find the courage to go back home.

Exciting, yet evocative, heart-wrenching, yet hilarious, Elijah of Buxton is Christopher Paul Curtis at his very best — and it's an unforgettable testament to the power of hope.

Elijah of Buxton is the winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor Book for 2008.

 

Author's Information:

Christopher Paul Curtis was born and reared in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No. 1 and graduated from the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. His first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996, and Bud, Not Buddy received the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000.

His most recent book Elijah of Buxton won a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2008. "This novel came to me in a way that was far different than any other," states Curtis. "From the word 'go' Elijah and I became close friends. When I'd go to the library to write, it was as if he were anxiously waiting for me, watiing to tell about his life, his worries, his adventues."

Christopher Paul Curtis lives with his wife and two children in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

 

Rewards: Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor Book in 2008

Reading Levels: Grade 7

Genre: Historical Fiction

Text Annotation

The First Part Last - Angela Johnson

Citation:

Johnson, A. (2003). The first part last. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

 

Annotation:

Bobby is a typical urban New York City teenager — impulsive, eager, restless. For his sixteenth birthday he cuts school with his two best buddies, grabs a couple of slices at his favorite pizza joint, catches a flick at a nearby multiplex, and gets some news from his girlfriend, Nia, that changes his life forever: He's going to be a father.

Suddenly things like school and house parties and fun times with friends are replaced by visits to Nia's obstetrician and countless social workers who all say that the only way for Nia and Bobby to lead a normal life is to put their baby up for adoption. Then tragedy strikes Nia, and Bobby finds himself in the role of single, teenage father. Because his child — their child — is all that remains of his lost love.

With powerful language and keen insight, Johnson tells the story of a young man's struggle to figure out what "the right thing" is and then to do it. The result is a gripping portrayal of a single teenage parenthood from the point of view of a young on the threshold of becoming a man.

 

Author's Information:
is an award winning American children's book and poetry author with over 40 books to her credit. She began her writing career in 1989 with the publication of a picture book called "Tell Me a Story, Mama" which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award in 1991. She has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels "The First Part Last (2004)," "Heaven(1999)," and "Toning the Sweep" (1994)."The First Part Last" was also the recipient of the Michael L Printz Award. "When I Am Old With You" was an Honor Book in 1990 and named an American Library Association Notable Book. "The Other Side, The Shorter Poems" was also selected as a Coretta Scott King Honor book in 1998. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. Born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1961, she grew up in Alabama and Ohio. She lives in Kent, Ohio.

 

Rewards:

The Printz Award in 2007

Coretta Scott King Author Award 2004

Alabama Author Award 2005

Green Mountain Book Award 2005

 

Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Text Annotation

The Autobiography of Malcom X - Malcom X, Alex Haley

Citation:

X, M., & Haley, A. (1992). The autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books.

 

Annotation: From hustling, drug addiction and armed violence in America's black ghettos Malcolm X turned, in a dramatic prison conversion, to the puritanical fervour of the Black Muslims. As their spokesman he became identified in the white press as a terrifying teacher of race hatred; but to his direct audience, the oppressed American blacks, he brought hope and self-respect. This autobiography (written with Alex Haley) reveals his quick-witted integrity, usually obscured by batteries of frenzied headlines, and the fierce idealism which led him to reject both liberal hypocrisies and black racialism.

 

Author's Information:

Alex Haley was born Alexander Murray Palmer Haley on August 11, 1921, in Ithaca, New York. At the time of his birth, Haley's father, Simon Haley, a World War I veteran, was a graduate student in agriculture at Cornell University, and his mother, Bertha Palmer Haley, was a teacher.

For the first five years of his life, Haley lived with his mother and grandparents in Henning, Tennessee, while his father finished his studies. When Simon Haley completed his degree, he joined the family in Tennessee and taught as a professor of agriculture at various southern universities. Alex Haley was always remarkably proud of his father, whom he said had overcome the immense obstacles of racism to achieve high levels of success and provide better opportunities for his children.

An exceptionally bright child and gifted student, Haley graduated from high school at the age of 15 and enrolled at Alcorn A&M College (Alcorn State University) in Mississippi, where he says he "was easily the most undistinguished freshman." After one year at Alcorn, he transferred to Elizabeth City State Teachers College in North Carolina.

In 1939, at the age of 17, Haley quit school to enlist in the Coast Guard. Although he enlisted as a seaman, he quickly became a third class petty officer in the inglorious rate of mess attendant. To relieve his boredom while on ship, Haley bought a portable typewriter and typed out love letters for his less articulate friends. He also wrote short stories and articles and sent them to magazines and publishers back in the United States. Although he received mostly rejection letters in return, a handful of his stories were published, encouraging Haley to keep writing.

At the conclusion of World War II, the Coast Guard permitted Haley to transfer into the field of journalism, and by 1949 he had achieved the rank of first class petty officer in the rate of journalist. Haley was soon promoted to chief journalist of the Coast Guard, a rank he held until his retirement in 1959, after 20 years of service. A highly decorated veteran, Haley received the American Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal and an honorary degree from the Coast Guard Academy. A Coast Guard Cutter was also named in Haley's honor: the USCGC Alex Haley.

Upon retiring from the Coast Guard in 1959, Haley set out to make it as a freelance writer. Although he published many articles during these years, the pay was barely enough to make ends meet. Haley recalls working 16-hour days for about $2,000 a year, surviving on nothing but canned sardines for weeks at a time.

Then, in 1962, Haley got his big break when Playboy magazine assigned him to conduct an interview with the famous trumpeter Miles Davis. The interview was such a success that the magazine contracted Haley to do a series of interviews with prominent African-Americans. Known as "The Playboy Interviews," Haley interviewed such prominent figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones and Malcolm X. After concluding his 1963 interview with Malcolm X, Haley asked the civil rights leader if he could write a book on his life. The result, two years later, was The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley. A seminal book of the civil rights movement as well as an international bestseller, the book memorialized for eternity the life of Malcolm X while transforming Haley, his collaborator, into a celebrated writer.

 

Awards: None

Level: 9-12 Grades

Genre: Nonfiction

Text Annotation

Heaven - Angela Johnson, John Jude Palencar

Citation:

Johnson, A. (1998). Heaven. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
 
Annotation: Marley was a perfectly happy 14-year-old until she discovered that the people she thought were her parents are actually her aunt and uncle, and that her Uncle Jack is her biological father. As she redefines who she is, and who her family is, Marley becomes an astute observer of other families and their relationships with one another. By seeing the love between other families, she knows that the love of her parents for her is genuine.
 
Author's Information: Angela Johnson was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, but raised in Windham, Ohio; the only girl in a family of five. She now lives in Northeastern Ohio in a hundred-year-old house full of plants. When not writing she travels. On one of her trips to the California desert the inspiration for her first novel, Toning the Sweep came about.
 
Awards: Coretta Scott King Author Award, 1998
Level: 6-8 grade
Genre: Fiction