Category Archives: Black History Month Book Parade 2014

It’s Tuesday, I’m Freezing and We Have a Winner

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Why, hello there!  How are y’all feeling?  Me?  I’m feeling cold!  Yes, the polar vortex is bearing down on south Texas again and I am freezing. While the girls and I walked to school this morning our faces were stinging, my ears were numb (they had on ear muffs) and our noses resembled Rudolph’s.  There’s another winter weather advisory in effect through mid-morning tomorrow which means the possibility of another “No Snow Day”! Just no.  This stopped being amusing a long time ago.

At any rate, I wanted to share something with you.  It’s one of those parenting lessons that one can only fully appreciate when you’re parenting from the rear view mirror like me.  This time around I am fully embracing letting my girls be fully and unapologetically themselves.  As a first time mom there was so much that I wanted to teach show Mr. C.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but I think that I may have had the approach wrong. I had his education, activities, well, pretty much life planned before he was even born.  In part, I think that I was over compensating for him not living with his dad and also, in part because I am a control freak.  I can admit that and I’m okay with it.  You may not be, but I am.  Whatever the reason, in some ways it has served me well, but in other ways it’s been somewhat stifling for him.  So, here I am so many years later with his little sisters and well, let’s just say that with their help (insistence) I have a new attitude.

Anyway, this all brings me to today.  Today is the first day of Read Across America Week commemorating the birthday of everyone’s favorite doctor, Dr. Seuss. The school invited every student to pick their favorite Dr. Seuss character from one of his books and make a stand-up replica or picture to be displayed in the library for the week. Thing 1 immediately asked me to draw her character (Marvin K. Mooney from Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now) and she would take care of the decorating. I did as she asked.

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However, Thing 2 immediately took to planning out her version of the Cat in the Hat. I listened and initially tried to get her to go along with the flow and do something similar to her sister.  But, she had a vision and she was insistent saying to me “It may not work, but at least just let me try.”  Who says no to that?I  So, she cut and she colored and she glued ALL ON HER OWN and this is what she came up with.

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Isn’t that the coolest ever?! And she’s only six-years-old!  Needless to say, her father and I are beyond proud of her and she was proud of herself.  That is, right up until it was time to take it to school.  Then fear and self-doubt over took her and she refused to take it with her this morning.  Big Poppa and I were so disappointed and tried (unsuccessfully) to convince her that no one would laugh at her or think it was terrible.  No.  She refused.  Now it lies on my kitchen counter where it will stay for a long while as a reminder of how important it is for parents to allow their children to just do their own thing. Their thing may not always be the best or the prettiest, but it will be uniquely their own.  Also, it is a reminder to parents for the constant need to build up your children  – their courage and self-confidence.  It’s not a done deal since she can always take it in later in the week.  Big Poppa and I are still encouraging her to do so.  Please feel free to leave any words of encouragement for her in the comments and just maybe we can get this awesome Cat in the Hat to school this week.

And now, on to other business…

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The winner of the 2014 Black History Month Book Parade Giveaway is Kimberly M.  Yay, you!!! Kim, just post a comment with the name of the book from the parade that you would like to receive and I will send it out to you right away.  Thank you all so much for following along this year and I can’t wait to do it again in 2015.  🙂

2014 Black History Month Book Parade – The Givaway

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I hope that you all have enjoyed the 2014 Black History Month Book Parade as much as I have enjoyed hosting it.  Now it’s time for the fun part…the giveaway! Perhaps there was a book that peaked your interest or one that you thought you’d like to give as a gift?  If you would like to review all of the books in the parade, click on the graphic above.  Then click on each book to go to the review/description.  Beginning at midnight on March 1st,  you can enter the name of the book from the parade that you would like to win (along with your first name and answering the question)  by clicking on the link to the 2014 Black History Month Book Parade Giveaway in the side bar on the blog (just scroll down, you will see it).   Entries will be taken through midnight on March 3rd and the winner will be announced right here on March 4th. It’s that easy!  Make sure that you enter and share with your friends.  Good Luck!   

And Finally…

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…this is it…the last post for the Black History Month Book Parade.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis was named a Newberry Honor Book, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction,  winner of the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year, finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and named an American Library Association Notable Book. Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is famous for being the first child to be born free in Buxton, Canada.   Well, that and for throwing up on Frederick Douglass, but that is another story.  Elijah is easy-going, kind and just a bit talkative (that might be an understatement).  Not what you would consider to be a reckless or rambunctious boy, Elijah spends much of his days fishing and skipping stones.  Since he was born free, he has no first hand knowledge of the horrors of living in the south and being a slave like his parents were before they escaped.

All of that changes when one day his friend’s money that he was saving to buy his family’s freedom was stolen by a former slave.  Elijah joins his friend on a trip back across the border into America to recover his stolen money and Elijah is exposed to the harsh realities of life as a slave.  What unfolds is a story of friendship, loyalty and courage.  His journey is dangerous and yes, sometimes even funny, but it just could make a hero out of him if he can just make it back home.  Intended for ages 11 and up.

There’s More to Life than Politics

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Last year when I started this book parade I included a book entitled Of the I Sing, A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama. In fact, it was the last book of the book parade.  That same day I received an email from someone who does personally know me, although not very well.  In her email she said that while she enjoyed the parade, she was disappointed that I took the opportunity to impose my political beliefs on my readers or to influence young children.  I was surprised to say the least.  I was also annoyed and I did not respond in any way.  I completely ignored the email… until now.  Those people who know me well know that I am very passionate about children, reading and early childhood education.  I am the person who reads children’s books just because I want to.  I am the person who checks out books at the library and still maintains a fairly large personal library in my home.  I will never be someone who really gets into reading on a tablet because I love the smell and feel of actual books.  I get excited about buying books that I’ve been waiting to be released.  I waited in line with my son at midnight for the release of the last Harry Potter book.  The others I pre-ordered so they would be delivered to my door on the day of the release.  We would spend the next week sharing the book only to finish it and spend the next month or so discussing what we thought would happen in the next one. I’m a reader and I raise readers.  Do you get me? I’m that girl!

The only reason that I included the book by President Obama is that it’s a really good book.  He is an excellent writer and the book, a love letter to his daughters, pays homage to a wide range of people who have had an impact on the fabric of this country.  More importantly, everything is not about politics.  While I have no problem discussing my political beliefs at appropriate times, I do not approach everything from a political perspective.  I approach everything from a human perspective.  Furthermore, I do not have to agree with someone’s political opinion in order to find good in them.  I do not see this world through red or blue colored glasses – quite possibly rose-colored at times.  So, when I selected this next book for this year’s book parade I remembered that email and thought that I should address this just in case I am accused yet again of playing politics.  I am not. Don’t even bother sending me that email if you are inclined to do so because I will not respond.  With that being said…

Condoleezza Rice, A Memoire of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me, by Condoleeza Rice

Condoleezza Rice, A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me, by Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice, A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me, By Condoleezza Rice is just that – a story about how a young, Black girl born during segregation in the South went on to become the 66th Secretary of State of the United States of America.  Ordinary she is not.  She is extremely bright,  and comfortable in her own skin.  Although she does talk about bigotry, racial tensions and growing up during the Civil Rights Movement (she was actually friends with two of the four Black girls that were killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham) , she is almost matter of fact about it.  Clearly something that helped shape her, but also clearly just another part of her story.   Her description of her family is candid and loving, despite their imperfections, and it’s obvious that her family ties run deep.  As do her friendships throughout her life.  The thing that struck me most about her is that she is extremely versatile.  She is a well-trained classical pianist that has performed with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Aretha Franklin (two of my favorite artists on the planet).  She is a former figure skater (although she describes herself as not very good at it) and, of course a history buff.  While the book is not necessarily entertaining, it is engaging because she is so relate-able.  In her search to  figure our who she was and where she was headed, she reminded me of most young people out there just trying to sort things out.  Yet, it was her adventurous spirit that led her to try new things and ultimately take the path that she chose all the way to Capitol Hill. Yes, she is a trailblazer for girls everywhere  – particularly young Black girls.  This book is definitely on our “must read” list as our girls get older (recommended for ages 10 and up).  

Give Me Liberty!

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Liberty Porter, First Daughter by Julia DeVillers

Liberty Porter, First Daughter by Julia DeVillers

Liberty Porter is your average 9-year-old with a love for history and a penchant for mischief.  Fortunately her dad has a super cool new job that gives her plenty of opportunities for new adventures.  Her dad is the President of the United States of America.  Liberty Porter, First Daughter  is the first in a series of books by Julia DeVillers that tell the tale of what it’s like to suddenly find yourself living in the White House.  There’s a new home to discover (the White House), a new city to tour (Washington D.C.) and your new…er…um…friends to accompany you everywhere you go (the secret service).  Now, she just has to figure out how to have some fun exploring her new surroundings without attracting too much attention.  After all, the world is watching!

Julia DeVillers has created a very fun character in Liberty Porter, one that most girls her age can identify with.  It’s an easy read and does have some anecdotal historical references that the reader will find interesting.  Perfect light reading while traveling over Spring Break (intended for ages 8 – 12).

It’s Almost Over

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It’s almost over!  We only have a few more posts to go this week and the Black History Month Book Parade will come to a close.  In preparation for the giveaway, if you want to see a review of all of the books being featured, click here.   Beginning at midnight on March 1st,  you can enter the name of the book from the parade that you would like to win (along with your name)  by clicking on the link to the 2014 Black History Month Book Parade in the side bar on my blog.   Entries will be taken through midnight on March 3rd and the winner will be announced right here on March 4th.

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Thank you so much for following along and I hope that you have been inspired to add one (or two, or three) of these books to your personal library.  🙂

Deza is Back!

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“We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful.”

                                                                                                                                 Deza Malone

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Those of you who have read Christopher Paul Curtis’s book, Bud Not Buddy may remember Bud’s friend Deza, an intelligent, caring and wise beyond her years girl who shares her first kiss with Bud. Well, Deza is back and this time she is the protagonist in Curtis’s book The Mighty Miss Malone.  

It is during the Great Depression and times are tough for Deza and her family, as it is for many Black families in Gary, Indiana. Jobs are scarce, racial tensions are running high and Deza’s dad is in need of work to keep his family afloat.  While the country is gripped in economic and social turmoil, the up coming boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling provides a distraction for the country (and quite possibly some symbolic hope for African – Americans).

Deza Malone is the smartest student in her class.  She loves to read and write and finds solace by escaping into her books and writings.  Deza lives in the family home with her father Roscoe, mother Peg and her brother Jimmie  who is not a star student, but has a chance to become a star with his beautiful singing voice.  The Malone family doesn’t have much in the way of possessions, but they do live in love. By the way, this is probably the most endearing quality that I found about this book. Kudos to Christopher Paul Curtis who showed a loving, Black family with two involved parents simply living and taking care of their kids (and each other) through trying circumstances.  Becoming more and more frustrated with his job search, Roscoe decides that what he needs is to take a relaxing fishing trip on Lake Michigan with some friends to unwind.  His friends end up dead and Roscoe goes missing for a few days, returning beaten and dazed.  It is clear that whatever happened out there on that lake had a profound effect on not only Roscoe’s physical well-being, but also his mental state. It is also clear that the Malone’s lives are forever changed.

In an effort to pick up the pieces, Roscoe leaves his family and travels to Detroit looking for work and promising to send for them as soon as he is settled.  Unwilling to let him go it alone, Peg packs up the kids and goes in search of him shortly thereafter.   Deza is scared and sad to be leaving her beloved teacher, Mrs. Needham, and her friends, but she, like her mother, is brave and determined to find her father.  What follows is a fantastic journey.  Not fantastic in terms of bringing good news and well wishes.  Fantastic in terms of finding strength and courage.  Going boldly and fearlessly forward determined to reach one’s goal. Fantastic in terms of watching a family take care of one another in the most unexpected ways.  Fantastic in terms of loving beyond limits and understanding.  Deza learns a lot about life, loyalty and love on her journey to wonderful.  She is a force to be reckoned with because she is never – and I mean NEVER – without hope.  She is the mighty Miss  Malone.  This book is intended for ages 9 to 12.

Love

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Love by Toni Morrison

Love by Toni Morrison

I think that I should tell you that I probably will never be able to NOT include a book by Toni Morrison in the Black History Month Book Parade.  Ms. Morrison is a masterful storyteller – really, an artist with words.  She is one of, if not my most favorite author and here she is again with this year’s selection, Love.

Love tells the story of the life and loves of Bill Cosey, the wealthy owner of the famous Cosey’s Hotel and Resort, “the best and best-known vacation spot for coloured folk on the East Coast”.  Founded during the depression, Cosey’s was a successful business, but after integration it fell by the wayside as more and more Blacks opted for other options such as Hilton’s, Hyatt’s and cruises for their vacation plans. Cosey, a driven and complicated man, is the center of the lives of five women as father, husband, lover, guardian and friend.  The novel explores the relationships not only between the women and Cosey, but also the resulting relationships between the women themselves, in some cases, almost forty years after his death. It delves into the reasons why we love, who we love and when love turns to hate.  Morrison’s narrative weaves story lines that span time and intricately intertwine characters throughout the novel.  This book is intended for high school to adult audiences.

A Force of Nature (My Pick for the Book Parade)

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Only Passing Through, The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell

Only Passing Through, The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell

I guess, technically, all of the books in the book parade are my picks, but this one is very special.  In the abolitionist movement practically everyone has heard of Harriet Tubman who rescued and freed countless slaves through her work on the Underground Railroad.   However, not everyone has heard of Sojourner Truth, which is unfortunate because she was, quite simply, a force of nature.

Only Passing Through, The Story of Sojourner Truth, by Anne Rockwell, is a biography of Isabella Baumfree (born in or about 1797) who later changed her name to Sojourner Truth.  It chronicles her life beginning when she was sold (at about age 9), after the death of her owner and sent away from her ailing and elderly parents.   A strong (and smart) woman, she is later sold from slave owner to slave owner until she ends up with a master who does not believe in slavery and grants her freedom.  Isabella/Sojourner sensing the need to share her wisdom and experiences, after years of being enslaved, became one of the most powerful voices in the abolitionist movement. She was a woman who believed that her purpose, in life was to make a difference.

At first glance this picture book looks like it is suitable for younger readers (Goodreads lists the age as 6 and up).  However, I disagree.  It is an honest and frank discussion about slavery and sometimes the illustrations are equally harsh.  While I’m all about honest open conversation about this topic, without appropriate context and the child’s ability to process the information, I think that both the historical lesson and message of the book are completely lost.  Possibly even disturbing.  I think the appropriate age is about 8 or 9 and up.

In the Beginning…(The Dynamic Duo’s Pick for the Parade)

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Creation, My Father Loves  Me, by J.D. Wise

Creation, My Father Loves Me, by J.D. Wise

“When you wake in the morning, remember your King,

Who loves you more than anything.

Stay close to His side. He’ll take care of you.

Because the great King is your father, too.”

Just like last year, I allowed my girls to select a book that they wanted to include in the Black History Month Book Parade and this is their pick for 2014. Creation, My Father Loves Me, by J.D. Wise is a wonderful retelling of the Bible’s creation story through the eyes of a boy hearing it from his father.  Although it is the familiar story of how God made day and night, sky and earth, man and animals, it is told from a different cultural perspective, being that of West Africa. He even uses the Adinkra language of West Africa on the dedication page to tell the story (I thought this was fun). There are colorful and imaginative illustrations to accompany the truly beautiful way in which the author tells the story. It’s family friendly and fun to read. This book quickly became one of my girls favorite bed time stories and comes highly recommended by Thing 1 and Thing 2 (and their parents)! 🙂