Ruth Lehrer’s gritty realism is reminiscent of Dorothy Allison, as is her exploration of poverty, abuse, neglect, miraculously strong girls, and the failure and promise of family. But, Lehrer’s pace and unrelentingly complicated descriptions of young teen subjectivity set Bring Fishkill firmly within the field of YA literature.
*A few spoilers but nothing major.
Being Fishkill, by Ruth Lehrer, is the story of Carmel Fishkill, a thirteen-year old girl growing-up in poverty. Carmel is mistreated by both family and society. She spends the first twelve-years of her life in a rundown home with a violent grandfather and incapable mother. When her grandfather dies and her mother disappears, Carmel reinvents herself in order to survive. Continue reading
If I only had two adjectives to describe The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes, written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, I would, without hesitation, choose witty and bold. The book’s cover features disembodied eyeballs floating on a purplish background as well as a woman with brown skin and long dark hair holding an ophthalmoscope. It’s a wonderful introduction to a picture book that is a little silly, a little serious, and brilliantly engaging. The book is one of a small handful in Innovation Press’s Amazing Scientists Series, which provides socially relevant biographies of scientists who have overcome structural inequality to become experts in their fields. All the books in the series are written by Mosca and illustrated by Rieley providing a sense of aesthetic and lyrical coherence to the collection. Continue reading
I was initially attracted to Gwendolyn Brooks’ collection of poems, Bronzeville Boys and Girls, because I enjoy the author’s work for adult audiences. I was not disappointed. Originally published in 1956, when depictions of African Americans in children’s literature were even more dismal than they are now, Brooks managed to create an assortment of poems that represent children and childhood complexly and with dignity and humor. She carefully walks the line between representing relatable emotions and experiences and refusing to abandon the specificity of the urban black community represented.