A series of interrelated events assemble to create a haunting tale of intergenerational salvation in Pat Cummings’ debut middle-grade novel Trace. The title character loses his loving parents in a car crash that he miraculously survives and mistakenly blames himself for causing.
Trace moves to Brooklyn to live with his aunt, Lea, an artsy and kind woman who doesn’t have much experience with children but makes up for it with compassion. Continue reading
One of the best things about book blogging is having access to Advanced Reader Copies of amazing books through NetGalley and, more directly, from authors and publishers. I am currently reading two amazing books for middle-grade readers, but I think both will be enjoyed by audiences 12 and up.
The first, Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky will spark curiosity and excitement about African and African American folklore. It needs to be in every 6th grade+ classroom.
Tristan is a well developed complex character who young readers are sure to admire. He is brave even when he is scared and loyal even when he is annoyed. Mbalia’s descriptions of settings and artifacts are cinematic. I’m a reader and rarely think a book must be made into a film but this book must be made into a film. I want to see this movie. I want to see Tristan and Gum Baby and Brer Rabbit.
The second, Lindsay Lackey’s All the Impossible Things, uses subtle doses of magical realism to allow readers to access the protagonist, Red’s, inner thoughts. Red’s mom is in prison and she is bouncing around from foster home to foster home… so far. I’m only a few chapters in but felt compelled to declare my love!!
More on these books soon!
Barry Wittenstein’s Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove (2019) takes readers on a stroll through New York City that begins at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. The picture book manages to be both intimate and expansive. Although a biography of jazz great Sonny Rollins, his story is deeply contextualized within cultural and political history. Keith Mallett’s illustrations capture mood and motion, each a work of art that brings the story to life. Continue reading
Kimberly Ballou’s When Daronte’s Father Went to Prison is a story told from the point-of-view of Daronte Williams, a young African American boy, who has the perfect life at the beginning of the story. Things quickly unravel and Ballou follows Daronte through the spiral, movingly representing his inner turmoil as he is forced to deal with the consequences of his father’s incarceration. Continue reading
Going Home with Daddy, written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Daniel Minter, is gorgeous.
The story unfolds from the point-of-view of a young African American boy heading to his great-grandma Granny’s for an annual family reunion. The text is heavy with emotion, but none shine as boldly as joy. Continue reading