Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bronx Masquerade, Nikki Grimes

Bronx Masquerade, Nikki Grimes
subjects: spoken word poetry, verse, alternating narrators, poetry slam, writing, urban teens, poverty, teaching, teen pregnancy, romance, domestic violence, courage
Grade: B

Set in a Bronx high school classroom, this book is written with alternating narrators, partially in verse. The main narrator, Tyrone Bittings ties the story together, recounting Fridays in English class when they have a poetry slam and students volunteer to perform their spoken word poems. The poems carry on the narration as well. The difficulties each of the teens face is clear, as is their strength and resilience (not to mention budding writing talent, as evidenced through their poetry).
It's a powerful story, well-woven together. For me, it didn't have the same narrative pull or ingenuity as Levithan's The Realm of Possibility, but it was engaging nonetheless.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Awesome book festival!

I went to the Teen Book Festival today in Rochester. It was awesome! I was able to attend author presentations by Linda Sue Park (When My Name Was Keoko), Matt de la Pena (Ball Don't Lie, Mexican Whiteboy), and Sharon Flake (The Skin I'm In, Money Hungry). They were all great! It was nice to get to see the authors up close and personal, and I'll definitely be going back to school to brag to my students. I really wanted to see Ellen Hopkins and David Van Etten (really three authors working together, which I didn't realize entirely before this conference), but I knew their sessions would be overloaded, and since it was a book festival for teens it was only fair to let the teens have the seats. I was so glad to see how many avid readers were there! I was able to get David Levithan to sign my copy of The Realm of Possibility. I seriously felt like a devoted groupie to a rock band - I absolutely adore that book, so it was really cool to meet the author and have him sign the book for me. I was also able to have Sara Zarr sign my copy of The Story of a Girl. They'll join my two other autographed books (from Laurie Halse Anderson) on top of my whiteboards at school, where I can proudly display them but students can reach them... I'm now determined to get the same kind of festival started in Syracuse. If Rochester can do it, so can we!

Hunger Games Questions

So, I think I covered most of my thoughts on the Hunger Games with my review post (see review a few posts down) but my high school students are reading it for our book club selection this month. I'm really eager to get the teenage perspective. Just thought I'd open it up for question suggestions - what would you want to discuss about the Hunger Games in a book club? And/Or what would you want to know from a teenager with regards to the book? I think I have a fairly diverse group coming, so it should be interesting. Feel free to leave me some discussion questions. I'll post after the meeting on Tuesday with what my students have to say. Thanks!