And, it’s officially May!
The buds are out. There are few things I love more than spring flowers, peepers, and buds on the trees. Birds. Right now there’s a Canadian goose eyeing me from my yard as I catch up on blog posts.
Today we planted spring flowers. I put one next to the she shed in a burst of optimism. Our soil is sandy and it’s a little shady tucked back in the trees, but I made it a nice hole of potting soil. Maybe there should be a picture for future posts.
BookRiot wanted me to read children’s/MG books that have won diversity awards. I took in two that have won Coretta Scott King awards, although there are other types of diversity awards out there too. They reward books depicting nonviolent social change.
Interestingly, both of these books have mothers who are breaking out of the mold for more social change. Not staying with partners, joining the revolution in their own ways. And they both feature girls in their own coming of age tales and how they fit in with a changing world. And life changing summers, as they often are for kids.
One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia
Three African American sisters are flown out to California to spend a month with their estranged mother, who left the family when the littlest one was still an infant. The narrator, Delphine, has cared for her sisters ever since, and this trip across the country, away from their father and grandmother for the first time, is no different. They find their mother with little maternal inclination and themselves at a day camp run by the Black Panthers while she is doing her thing for the revolution. Mother and daughters come to a middle ground of respect during the few weeks that look doomed at the outset, helped by the common ground of being involved in the revolution.
Delphine, for her own coming of age, learns to loosen up some and grows up a little too, getting to know a mother who she barely remembers, who is trying to piece together memories. More of Mom’s past also comes to light which helps us better understand choices that at the outset seemed difficult to empathize with.
This is a good one on so many levels: kids in the MG group can relate to the characters while also learning about what that time in history was like for those it affected. I mean, there is a reason that books earn these distinctions, and why they exist. Empathy building. I always say it and I don’t mind saying it some more.
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jaqueline Woodson
Stories from a little girl’s years growing up African American in both the South and the North are told in verse. Don’t let the verse put you off this one, like it did to me for a long time. It’s more like snippets, vignettes, than it felt like verse to me. It wasn’t like, Canterbury Tales or Beowulf or something. It was accessible.
I liked how she got to show the contrast between the worlds of New York versus Alabama, her mother forging ahead as a single mom with them in the North while they lived with for a short time and then were able to visit grandparents in the South. The different kids and the attitudes. And for the narrator’s personal story, how she came into herself as a writer, even if she was very different from her bookish older sister, more similar to her active older brother. How she talked about the African American experience changing in front of her young eyes. Nope, it was beautiful, and I loved the audiobook, narrated by the author, so the poems were communicated in the intended tone.
Bonus book not mentioned in the opening!
The Season of Styx Malone, Kekla Magoon
A pair of brothers from an intact family have their usual life upended when they meet Styx, a sixteen year old foster kid who engages them in a scheme to get a moped. They are a few years younger and the narrating brother is dazzled by his smooth manner and his indisputable coolness, but learns the truth under Styx’s shiny veneer.
All right, so I wasn’t sure if this was an actual awardee or the author had gotten the award before. And then downloading the picture for the post I’m seeing that this one was an honor book for the CSK award this year, so it does count, but I stopped reading this one to read Brown Girl Dreaming, and then went back to it to finish the story (all of these were offered on audio/ebook at my library, when often nonwhite books are not offered in electronic format from my library. Interesting. Maybe because they are children’s books?)
But what I initially planned on was discussing the differences between the coming of age for boys and girls, like I have in the past with turn of the century novels (Cold Sassy Tree and Calpurnia Tate), and thankfully the boys and girls lives were not as different in modern times. Of course, the themes were different, with Delphine wanting to be a caregiver and a parent figure to her sisters, whereas Caleb wants to stand out, see the world, and try new things, but the freedoms afforded them were much less disparate. I would expect them to want somewhat different things. Delphine’s younger sister Vonetta didn’t want to be ordinary, just like Caleb didn’t.
Also, this was less about social context, in my opinion, than the other two talked about here. There is mention of how being black comes with more concerns about being safe in ways that white parents don’t need to thinks about to the same degree. Caleb’s father makes sure that white people know who he is for safety reasons. He doesn’t venture into places with his family where people are less likely to know them, and this strains his relationship with Caleb, the narrator, who wants to see the world.
Editing is coming at a decent clip on the novel. I have one session with my writing teacher to decide how to manage a questionable plot element. Then it could be time for *gulp* querying. I haven’t even looked seriously at publishers, as I am afraid that will kill my confidence to get it out there and see what happens.
In another first world problem, Audible renews this month and I have two credits left, and I am so tempted to just get two audiobooks instead of waiting for sales, waiting for when they are needed for a reading theme, or waiting for one that’s at the library instead. Getting crazy up in here.
Next week: Cozies!!