Kids Book Reviews by Genre: African American

Anderson, Laurie Halse
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Isabel Finch is a slave girl and belongs to Miss Mary Finch. When Miss Mary Finch dies, she and her younger sister Ruth must travel away from Rhode Island and to New York where they are bought and serve a new master. This master is a strong loyalist and Isabel finds herself trading information about battles and invasions to the local patriot camp in New York. I loved this book because it showed bravery and the injustice of slavery for young girls. I would fully recommend this book to anyone who has a heart for historical fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Nina F.
Out of My Mind
Draper, Sharon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

In this amazing story of young Melody, who was born with with Cerebral Palsey (CP), must face the hardships of mean girls and people who underestimate her abilities. You will always be found caught in Melody’s mind. Defiantly a must read.

Reviewer's Name: PigPerson
Armstrong, William H.
4 stars = Really Good

The book, Sounder, is a great read. While it is a short read, it packs a powerful punch. The only reason I could really no like the book was that it does get to a be a cliche "dog story" at times. The characters are pretty well developed, and the story does get very dark. The multiple ongoing conflicts also captivate the reader. While its sort-of a children's book, the book also does have some cool underlying themes that the reader can pick out.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone, as its quick and phenomenal read.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Armstrong and Charlie
Frank, Steven
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

With race relations where they are today, it’s almost somewhat jarring to know that things haven’t changed much in over four decades. In an attempt to educate the next generation about racism, Steven B. Frank’s Armstrong and Charlie is an excellent start. While I would like to think that race relations have improved since the mid-1970’s, there are plenty of lessons available in this book that are applicable today. Still, racism can be a two-way street, and I couldn’t help but think of the Avenue Q song, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.”

Beyond the obvious racial undertones to this book, Armstrong and Charlie is a fantastic book about growing up. Aimed at kids on the cusp of growing into adults, the book masterfully represents moments of peer pressure where the characters have to decide what the correct response should be. Not only does it have valuable lessons about lying, stealing, bullying, and grieving, but it includes a few moments of romance as well. As boys progress into their teenage years, these moments are sweet, but also emphasize the whirlwind of emotions and hormones about to befall all kids of that age.

The best part of Armstrong and Charlie is how the narrative splits between the two, titular boys. With the reader knowing the background of each individual, the reasons behind the biases and social friction come to light well before the boys realize that people are deeper than they appear on the surface. Somebody might be poor and act out in spite of it. Others might have family or personal problems that they’re hiding via and underneath a mask of toughness. Once we finally get to know someone, we find they’re not nearly as different as we once thought.

A fantastic book about 1970’s race relations that everyone should read, I give Armstrong and Charlie 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Nick Hall has everything going for him: he's doing well in school, he's got a solid flirtation going with his crush (or...limerence as it were), and most importantly, he made the soccer travel team. And so, of course, everything starts to go wrong. His parents separate, he starts to get bullied and his best friend ends up on a soccer team 30 miles away.

Booked is absolutely in no way the type of book I would normally pick up, but despite that, I thought it was fantastic. It's a sports fiction novel written in verse neither of which are my thing, but man, I get why Crossover won that Newbery if it was anything like this. In very few words, Alexander manages to develop complex characters, create humor, and develop and subsequently neatly (a little too neatly, perhaps, but hey, it is a book for kids) tie up several plot lines. Oh! And the words! There is a fun little subplot in which Nick's dad wrote a dictionary, and it leads to some really awesome word play. I also learned a few new fun vocabulary words to throw around.

Anyway, my final thought is really I'm impressed. I'll definitely be booktalking this one. And even though, like I said, it's not my thing AT ALL, I'll probably read Crossover, Alexander's other book. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
One Crazy Summer
Williams-Garcia, Rita
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

I honestly don’t have the words to describe how much I loved this book. It has won four national book awards and has left its mark on my heart. I really enjoyed how this book gave a new aspect on the life of other people in our world. This is a story that readers will look back on for years to come. The changes that these three girls go through are remarkable and their love for each other is touching. A phenomenal piece of work that will stick with children, teens, and anyone who appreciates a good story.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gerilyn M.
Taylor, Mildred D.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Wow. This book was amazing. It was so well-written that I felt like I was there experiencing everything with Cassie. I wonder if I could be as brave as the Logans when faced with bodily harm. The courage of all civil rights activists blows my mind. My mother's family lived in Mississippi in the 1930s and were white. I hope they were sympathetic to the plight of African Americans, and not racists. But in reality, they were likely racists like most other whites during that time. What would I have been like if I was born during that time period? I like to think I'd be sympathetic and would stand up for what's right, but if you're raised with inequality as your reality how do you overcome it? I guess with education and experience and a knowledge of right and wrong, justice and injustice. But still, would I have had the bravery to stand up for what's right if it means physical harm? I hope so. Brilliant book. Perhaps my favorite children's novel of all time.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn