Tag Archives: discrimination

Cicada by Shaun Tan

Cicada by Shaun Tan. January 29, 2019. Arthur A. Levine, 32 p. ISBN: 9781338298390.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

From the visionary Shaun Tan, an inspirational story for older picture book readers and beyond

Cicada tells the story of a hardworking little cicada who is completely unappreciated for what he does. But in the end, just when you think he’s given up, he makes a transformation into something ineffably beautiful. A metaphor for growing up? A bit of inspiration for the unappreciated striver in all of us? Yes, yes, and more.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

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Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 8))
Grades 6-9. From award-winning Tan comes another nonpareil picture book. Tan’s eponymous Cicada is a mistreated office worker in a grim office building, employed by a company truly Kafkaesque in its brutal devotion to minutiae. “Seventeen year,” says our protagonist. “No promotion. Human Resources say Cicada not human. Need no resources. Tok Tok Tok!” We see the Cicada retire quietly from its mundane, thankless job, homeless and impoverished—a pathos evenly played in Tan’s deft hand. Tan juxtaposes the heartrending despondency of the story with a new sense of wonder as we see the cicada begin anew outside of his dreary office, just as the muted tones of the man-made office building are ignited by the verdant, gleaming cicada itself. As Tan’s books often do, this seems to defy categorization—its themes, admittedly, are perhaps too mature for the standard picture-book crowd. But for older readers drawn to unusual narrative formats, this book could work wonders with its nuanced, hopeful depiction of individuality. Illustrated with graceful restraint, this book is a stirring vignette of a life lived against the grain.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2018)
Tan’s narratives often critique traditional office culture; this one features the inhumane treatment of the protagonist, a cicada dressed in a four-armed gray suit, complete with tie and pocket square. Oriented vertically, the insect does not reach the top of his human co-workers’ desks, thus skewing the perspective so their heads are not visible. The green data entry clerk works in a gray maze of cubicles. Despite his exceptional performance and strong work ethic, he must walk blocks to a bathroom and is physically bullied. Readers will recognize forms of marginalization throughout, i.e., the elevator buttons are too high, poverty forces residency in the office wall. Cicada language is primitive and rhythmic: “Seventeen year. No promotion. / Human resources say cicada not human. / Need no resources. / Tok Tok Tok!” The last line is a refrain following each brief description, suggesting both the sound of a clock (time passing) and the notion of cicada “talk.” Upon retiring, he ascends the long stairway to the skyscraper’s ledge. The oil paintings of shadowy, cramped spaces transition to a brightened sky; a split in Cicada’s body reveals a molten glow. An orange-red winged nymph emerges and joins a sky full of friends flying to the forest, where they have the last laugh. No Kafkaesque conclusion here; metamorphosis brings liberation and joy. Simultaneously sobering and uplifting, it will lead thoughtful readers to contemplate othering in their own lives. (Picture book. 12-adult)

About the Author

Shaun Tan (born 1974) is the illustrator and author of award-winning children’s books. After freelancing for some years from a studio at Mt. Lawley, Tan relocated to Melbourne, Victoria in 2007. Tan was the Illustrator in Residence at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Language Literacy and Arts Education for two weeks through an annual Fellowship offered by the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust. 2009 World Fantasy Award for Best Artist.
2011 he won his first Oscar in the Category Best Short Animated Film for his work The Lost Thing.

His website is www.shauntan.net

Teacher Resources

Cicada Teacher Resources

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Attucks!: Oscar Robinson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City by Phillip Hoose

Attucks!: Oscar Robinson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City by Phillip Hoose. October 23, 2018. Farrar, Straus and Girou, 212 p. ISBN: 9780374306120.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1110.

The true story of the all-black high school basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indiana, masterfully told by National Book Award winner Phil Hoose.

By winning the state high school basketball championship in 1955, ten teens from an Indianapolis school meant to be the centerpiece of racially segregated education in the state shattered the myth of their inferiority. Their brilliant coach had fashioned an unbeatable team from a group of boys born in the South and raised in poverty. Anchored by the astonishing Oscar Robertson, a future college and NBA star, the Crispus Attucks Tigers went down in history as the first state champions from Indianapolis and the first all-black team in U.S. history to win a racially open championship tournament—an integration they had forced with their on-court prowess.
From native Hoosier and award-winning author Phillip Hoose comes this true story of a team up against impossible odds, making a difference when it mattered most.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism, Strong language

 

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Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Anyone who’s seen Hoosiers has an idea how crazy Indianans are about basketball. What it doesn’t hint at, though, is the story Newbery Honor Book author Hoose tells—that not only was Indiana, and its capital, Indianapolis, nuts about b-ball, but that the success of a black high school, built in the 1920s at the instigation of the Ku Klux Klan, would through its hardwood success drive integration in the 1950s in a place known as “the South of the North.” Crispus Attucks High School didn’t even have an adequate gym, nor were they initially allowed to play other public schools, but in the early 1950s, things slowly began to change. The 1954–55 team won the state championship, finally overcoming bad officiating and gaining the respect of the still largely segregated city. As Hoose puts it, “Attucks varsity were becoming activists for racial justice by excelling at something that was dearly prized by whites.” The story of triumph covers personalities as well as history: Oscar Robertson, the NBA basketball great, was the centerpiece of a team led by Ray Crowe, a remarkable coach. Their backgrounds and what drove them are woven into the exciting descriptions of games. Excessively readable, this should appeal to sports fans and those looking for a good book about the civil rights era. Exemplary notes and sources will push readers—adults included—to learn even more.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2018)
Acclaimed author Hoose (The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, 2015, etc.) returns to his home state with the true story of the all-black high school basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indianapolis, anchored by one of the greatest players of all time. Recently honored with the NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Oscar Robertson is known for his accomplishments both as an athlete and advocate for NBA players. However, few know the story of how the Naptown basketball savant was able to lead his segregated high school to back-to-back state championships. Hoose does a brilliant job of portraying the surrounding historical context, exploring the migration of black families from the South to Indiana, showing how Jim Crow practices were just as present in the North as in the South, and describing the deep groundswell of support for basketball in Indiana. The inspiration for the book was the Big O himself, who told Hoose that the Ku Klux Klan “did something they couldn’t foresee by making Attucks an all-black school. The city of Indianapolis integrated because we were winning.” Could basketball have served as a pathway to racial progress within the Hoosier state? Attucks! doesn’t pretend that we’ve outlived the racism of the American past, all the while showing readers how being grounded in one’s self-worth and committed to the pursuit of excellence can have a lasting impact on a community. A powerful, awe-inspiring basketball-driven history. (biographies, sources, notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Phillip Hoose is the widely-acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs, and articles, including the National Book Award winning book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice.

A graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Hoose has been a staff member of The Nature Conservancy since 1977, dedicated to finding and protecting habitats of endangered species.

A songwriter and performing musician, Phillip Hoose is a founding member of the Children’s Music Network and a member of the band Chipped Enamel. He lives in Portland, Maine.

His website is philliphoose.wordpress.com/

Teacher Resources

Attucks! Educator’s Guide

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Dreams on Fire by Annette Daniels Taylor

Dreams on Fire by Annette Daniels Taylor. October 1, 2018. West 44 Books, 200 p. ISBN: 9781538382486.  Int Lvl: YA; Lexile: 400.

With an incarcerated father and an estranged drug-addicted mother, Shanequa’s dreams of higher education feel like a fantasy. When Shanequa gets the chance to attend a prestigious private prep school, she feels like her dreams might become reality. Shanequa finds it easier to lie to her new friends than tell them the truth about her family. When her lies are found out, and Shanequa strikes back in blind rage, her path changes forever.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Underage drinking, Underage smoking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Using realistic, raw, and powerful poetry that will reach the reluctant reader, Taylor’s novel tells a difficult story entirely through the poems of its young protagonist. Shanequa starts at a prestigious private prep school and, ashamed of her drug-addict mother, omits the truth about her family situation to the students there. When her new best friend Ashley proves false and provokes her, Shanequa’s punch to Ashley’s nose sets Shanequa on the same path as her incarcerated father. But she is smart and strong, as we see through her writing, and with the help of her family and an understanding teacher, she sets herself right. This is one of six titles in West 44’s YA Verse series, which effectively uses poetry to tell a story simply and with no frills, and yet ensure honesty flows through every word. Shanequa’s teacher Miss Precious says it best: “Shanequa’s poems have / meaning, strength, and power. / Writing honestly about the / painfully difficult / is her gift.” A beautiful, empowering choice for a wide spectrum of readers.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
America’s systemic race and class problems are viscerally rendered in this evocative account of a black teenage girl’s coming-of-age in a novel for reluctant readers. Shanequa’s life is one of constant heartbreaking struggle. Her father is in jail for second-degree murder, and her mother, depressed by the loss of her husband, succumbs to drugs and abandons her children, leaving Shanequa and her younger sister, LaKecia, to be raised by their grandmother. Yearning for a better life, Shanequa works her way into the prestigious Bidwell Academy for Girls, where she must strive to move forward while dealing with the ghosts from her past. Told in a series of short narrative poems, Shanequa’s struggles, dreams, and fears come alive on the page as she grapples with shame at being poor in a rich world and the indignities of being black and exoticized in a predominantly white educational environment. Taylor (Street Pharmacist, 2016, etc.) nicely employs the story’s framework to turn the protagonist into a shrewdly observational character with a unique voice by giving the readers small glimpses into her thoughts. Descriptions of the two sisters reveal that the darker-skinned Shanequa feels ugly in comparison to her lighter sibling, and casual discussion of various students’ cellphones underscores the class disparities at her school. A haunting and honest depiction of adversity and triumph that reveals America’s continuing struggle to give equal opportunities to all. (Verse novel. 15-18)

About the Author

Annette Daniels Taylor, an award winning playwright, poet and artist-filmmaker. Her debut YA novel, Dreams on Fire (October 2018) with West 44 books is an poetic urban teenage journey written in verse.The author of two poetry chapbooks, Street Pharmacist; and Hush now, Annette’s work explores identity, class, memory, place, and public history. Her drama A Little Bit of Paradise, available at Amazon.com, won the 2008 Artie Award for Outstanding New Play. Daniels Taylor is also a 2018-19 New York State Public Humanities fellow, a 2016-18 Arthur A. Schomburg fellow with the Department of Media Study, SUNY University at Buffalo and a Pink Door Poetry alum.

Her website is www.annettedanielstaylor.com

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Girls Can’t Hit by T.S. Easton

Girls Can’t Hit by T.S. Easton. July 17, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 288 p. ISBN: 9781250102324.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 670.

A funny, feminist teen story about knowing when to train . . . and when to fight.

Fleur Waters never takes anything seriously – until she turns up at her local boxing club one day, just to prove a point. She’s the only girl there, and the warm-up alone is exhausting . . . but the workout gives her an escape from home and school, and when she lands her first uppercut on a punching bag she feels a rare glow of satisfaction. So she goes back the next week, determined to improve.

Fleur’s overprotective mum can’t abide the idea of her entering a boxing ring, why won’t she join her pilates class instead? Her friends don’t get it either and even her boyfriend, ‘Prince’ George, seems concerned by her growing muscles and appetite – but it’s Fleur’s body, Fleur’s life, so she digs her heels in and carries on with her training. When she finally makes it into the ring, her friends and family show their support and Fleur realises that sometimes in life it’s better to drop your guard and take a wild swing!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Discrimination

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. Fleur’s pretty sure she’s a bad feminist. She doesn’t stand up to people the way her best friend, Blossom, does. She even muted Emma Watson on Twitter. So when one of Blossom’s crusades takes them to a local boxing gym, Fleur surprises everyone, including herself, by signing up for a class. She’s even more surprised when she goes back the next week. She’s the only girl there, it’s the hardest workout she’s ever done in her life, and no one, from her Pilates-preferring mom to her orderly boyfriend, is thrilled that she’s courting concussions and packing on muscle. But for the first time in her life, Fleur feels strong and willing to fight for something. Here Easton offers up a cheeky, girl-centric counterpoint to his acclaimed Boys Don’t Knit (2015). Lighthearted and irreverent, this British import is a feminist sports story rooted in humor. Readers will enjoy watching smart-mouthed Fleur gain confidence as a boxer and as a young woman, and the always-popular underdog sports narrative will attract many readers.

Publishers Weekly Annex (July 16, 2018)
A teen boxer’s dry sense of humor, as well as her quirky friends and small English town, charm in this empowering coming-of-age story. Sixteen-year-old Fleur lacks true passion about most things in her life, but when her best friend, Blossom, a fired-up feminist, enlists her to help with a protest over gender restrictions at a local boxing club, Fleur signs up for a class on a whim and slowly comes to love it. Her stodgy boyfriend, her anxious and protective mother, and even Blossom don’t understand Fleur’s commitment to her new interest, and at times-such as when she’s sweating profusely and nearly puking-Fleur’s not sure about it herself. But as the weeks pass, what started as a lark becomes the most serious thing in Fleur’s life, rippling out across all her relationships, as she trains hard and sets the goal of stepping into the ring for a match. Fleur’s newfound strength, both physical and emotional, and her changing attitude toward herself build to a satisfying final round. Ages 13-up.

About the Author

T. S. Easton is an experienced author of fiction for all ages and has had more than a dozen books published. He has written under a number of different pseudonyms in a variety of genres. Subjects include vampires, pirates, pandemics and teenage agony aunts (not all in the same book). He lives in Surrey with his wife and three children and in his spare time works as a Production Manager for a UK publisher.

His website is www.tomeaston.co.uk

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice (adapted for young adults) by Bryan Stevenson. September 18, 2018. Delacorte Press, 277 p. ISBN: 9780525580041.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1130.

In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestselling Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America’s most rejected and marginalized people.

In this very personal work–proceeds of which will go to charity–Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.

Through the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization Stevenson founded as a young lawyer and for which he currently serves as Executive Director, this important work continues. EJI strives to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Criminal culture, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

Author Video

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Stevenson brought the topic of mass incarceration to the forefront in his critically acclaimed, Carnegie Award–winning Just Mercy​ (2014). In this adaptation for young people, Stevenson once again describes the difficult work he’s faced as a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Mobile, Alabama. As he focuses on the case of Walter McMillian, a poor African American man wrongfully convicted of capital murder, he brings to light alarming racial and socioeconomic disparities in the criminal-justice system, particularly the overwhelming number of poor and black prisoners without adequate legal representation and on death row. The author also weaves in stories of mistreated prisoners with mental illness, female prisoners abused by male guards, and other atrocities. The stories that will resonate most with adolescent readers, however, are those of teens, even as young as 13 and 14, sentenced to life in prison in adult facilities. While calling out needs for prison reform, Stevenson asks readers to consider a just mercy for the prisoners mentioned in the book and those like them. A just mercy would see prisoners as human beings, taking into consideration their often trauma-filled backgrounds, realistic sentences for young teens, and rehabilitative services upon release, among other changes. Classrooms and book groups will find plenty to discuss and debate. Compassionate and compelling, Stevenson’s narrative is also unforgettable.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” proclaims Stevenson’s adaptation for younger audiences of his 2014 New York Times bestseller, a deeply moving collage of true stories dedicated to transforming the U.S. criminal justice system. The story begins in 1983, when 23-year-old Stevenson, a Harvard Law intern, found the moral resolve to join the pro bono defense team of a capital punishment case in Georgia. Throughout his journey, he highlights numerous cases that demonstrate unfair policies and practices throughout our criminal justice system. These examples form an incisive critique of mass incarceration resulting from state and federal policy changes in the late 20th century. He continues to lead the Alabama-headquartered Equal Justice Initiative, whose mission it is to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable. Stevenson argues that, “The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” These important stories put a human face on statistics and trends and give us tested strategies to reverse the oppressive consequences of racial and economic injustice in our country. This inspiring book will ignite compassion in young readers and show connections between the history of slavery, Reconstruction, and the present day. This is required reading, embracing the ideals that “we all need mercy, we all need justice, and—perhaps—we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” (notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

Teacher Resources

Just Mercy Discussion Guide

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Just Mercy Publisher Page

Streetcar to Justice by Amy Hill Hearth

Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York by Amy Hill Hearth. January 2, 2018. Greenwillow Books, 160 p. ISBN: 9780062673602.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.5; Lexile: 1120.

Amy Hill Hearth uncovers the story of a little-known figure in U.S. history in this biography. In 1854, a young African American woman named Elizabeth Jennings won a major victory against a New York City streetcar company, a first step in the process of desegregating public transportation in Manhattan.

One hundred years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Elizabeth Jennings’s refusal to leave a segregated streetcar in the Five Points neighborhood of Manhattan set into motion a major court case in New York City.

On her way to church one day in July 1854, Elizabeth Jennings was refused a seat on a streetcar. When she took her seat anyway, she was bodily removed by the conductor and a nearby police officer and returned home bruised and injured. With the support of her family, the African American abolitionist community of New York, and Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Jennings took her case to court. Represented by a young lawyer named Chester A. Arthur (a future president of the United States) she was victorious, marking a major victory in the fight to desegregate New York City’s public transportation

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 5-8. When Elizabeth Jennings, a young black woman on her way to church, refused to vacate a New York City streetcar and was literally torn off of it by its driver and roughed up by that driver and a police officer, there was no one around to photograph the event. Luckily, though, there were people who took up her cause for justice, including a young lawyer who went on to become a U.S. president (Chester Arthur). It was 1854, years before the Civil War and emancipation, and a century before Rosa Parks similarly stood her ground. But few people know about Jennings and how her case impacted discrimination laws in the northern city, where she lived as a free black gentlewoman. Hearth places this obscure gem of a story in context: illustrations from the era and extensive notes and references help readers follow the story. Those interested in the myriad origins of the civil rights movement will be fascinated by the case and how it galvanized the black community of its day.

Publishers Weekly (October 16, 2017)
Hearth (The Delany Sisters Reach High) draws on her journalism roots to carefully piece together the story of a mostly forgotten figure in the struggle for racial equality in the United States. African-American schoolteacher Elizabeth Jennings vehemently fought back when she was refused streetcar service in 1854 Manhattan; her victorious court case against the streetcar company helped integrate public transportation in New York. Hearth grounds Jennings’s story in vivid sensory detail: “she would have walked around piles of horse manure and maybe even the bloated remains of a dead animal or two.” Fifteen chapters pack in contextualizing information, often in sidebars, educating readers on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation in the north to Jennings’s contemporaries Frederick Douglass and Chester Arthur (Jennings’s lawyer and future U.S. president). Archival photos, newspaper clippings, and resources that include a timeline of Jennings’s life (she founded the first kindergarten for black children in New York City) augment a book that belongs in any civil rights library collection. Ages 8-12

About the Author

Amy Hill Hearth (pronounced HARTH) is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. Her topics include women’s history, forgotten stories, and elder wisdom.

Ms. Hearth and her husband, Blair, a native of Naples, Florida, live by the ocean in New Jersey, about an hour from Manhattan, with their rescued Boston Terriers. Her website is www.amyhillhearth.com

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Backfield Boys by John Feinstein

Backfield Boys by John Feinstein. August 29, 2017. Farrar Straus Giroux, 353 p. ISBN: 9780374305925.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 840.

In Backfield Boys, renowned sports journalist and New York Times–bestselling author John Feinstein tells a thrilling story of friendship, football, and a fight for justice.

Freshman footballers Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are a perfect pair: Jason is a blazing-fast wide-receiver, while his best friend Tom has all the skills a standout quarterback needs. After summer football camp at an elite sports-focused boarding school, the boys are thrilled to be invited back with full-ride scholarships.

But on day one of practice, they’re shocked when the team’s coaching staff makes Tom, a black kid, a receiver and Jason, a white kid, a quarterback. Confronted with mounting evidence of deep-seated racial bias, the boys speak out, risking their scholarships and chances to play. As tensions ratchet up with coaches and other players, Tom and Jason must decide how much they’re willing to lose in a conflict with powerful forces that has nothing―and everything―to do with the game they love.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

Video Review

 

About the Author

John Feinstein is the author of more than thirty books, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. He is also the author of numerous kids mysteries. His first young adult mystery, Last Shot, won the Edgar Allen Poe Award. John also works for The Washington Post, The Golf Channel, Sirius XM Radio, and Comcast Sportsnet.

Her website is jfeinsteinbooks.com.

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Backfield Boys on Amazon

Backfield Boys on Goodreads

Backfield Boys on JLG

Backfield Boys Publisher Page

Us, In Progress by Lulu Delacre

Us, In Progress by Lulu Delacre. August 29, 2017. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062392145.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 740.

Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States.

In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.

Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Prejudice

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 3-7. Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Delacre offers up 12 short stories, beautifully written with candor, honesty, and perfect brevity, that explore what it means to be a Latinx in the U.S. today. These finely wrought and uniformly well-written stories, many based on true incidents, portray the wide range of cultural and geographic diversity within the Latinx community. They feature both male and female main characters and cover topics such as police abuse, the prevalence of prediabetes in the Latinx population, and the misconception that all Latinos are dark-skinned and poor. Many of the stories deal with community dynamics—how an unassuming member can make an indelible impression, Saturday school language classes, and bullying and family dysfunction—while others address larger social issues, such as guardianship related to deportation and immigration, unaccompanied minors crossing borders, and the 2012 DREAM Act. Delacre illustrates as well, providing a gorgeous mixed-media portrait of each story’s main character, and a glossary of Spanish words and phrases, organized by story, concludes the book. Delacre’s lyrical writing perfectly expresses what the characters are experiencing, and each story’s ending is honest and satisfying, if sometimes open-ended—much like real life. A collection not to be missed.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
This collection opens with “The Attack,” an all-too-timely account of a young Latino man with a disability being mistreated by the police. The twelve tales are all based on true events, appended with notes that explain where Delacre first learned of them and citing the article that informed each piece. The deliberate voice and close focus on each fictionalized protagonist turns each headline into a relatable story. At the beginning of each tale, Delacre includes intricate mixed-media character portraits, purposely unfinished, pencil drawings layered between pierced rice paper and incorporating newspaper clippings from her original sources. She also pairs each story with a refran; these sayings are translated in the back matter, which also includes a glossary of Spanish terms. The collection presents stories about health (in “Selfie,” Marla attempts to improve her pre-diabetic condition through cycling); about young people feeling shame over their parents’ jobs (“Burrito Man”); parents being deported (“Band-Aid”); and siblings who are undocumented (“The Secret”). In contrast, in “90,000 Children,” a twelve-year-old Latino boy aspires to be a Border Patrol agent. Delacre’s collection challenges existing misconceptions by giving readers an intimate and varied look into what it is like to be young and Latino in the United States today. sonia alejandra rodriguez

About the Author

Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre has been writing and illustrating children’s books since 1980. Born and raised in Puerto Rico to Argentinean parents, Delacre says her Latino heritage and her life experiences inform her work. Her 37 titles include Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young LatinosArroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, a Horn Book Fanfare Book in print for over 25 years; and Salsa Stories, an IRA Outstanding International Book. Her latest picture book ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado; Olinguito, from A to Z! Unveiling the Cloud Forest has received 20 awards and honors including an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor and an ALA Notable for All Ages. Delacre has lectured internationally and served as a juror for the National Book Awards. She has exhibited at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York; the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museum of Ponce in Puerto Rico among other venues.

Her website is www.luludelacre.com

Around the Web

Us, In Progress on Amazon

Us, In Progress on Goodreads

Us, In Progress on JLG

Us, In Progress Publisher Page