Ghost Boys

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Ghost Boys (hardcover)

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

 

This brand new book is an important read for our children.  I’ve talked a lot about The Hate U Give and Dear Martin and other books that discuss gun violence and black kids being shot by police, but those are young adult novels.  We need something for those in between kids that aren’t quite ready for these, but still need exposure to this growing epidemic.  Ghost Boys is perfect for that, and it gives students a history lesson, as well.  Jerome is a seventh grade black boy in a poor, dangerous part of Chicago.  He is also bullied by three boys at school.  He makes a new friend named Carlos, who is Mexican but from San Antonio.  Carlos gives Jerome a toy gun to play with, and Jerome finds himself shot by a white cop because of it.  He reappears as a ghost, guided by the ghost of Emmett Till.  Jerome sees his family mourning, stands in court when the judge decides not to press charges against the police officer who killed him, and is surprised when the officer’s daughter can see him.  He forms a relationship with the daughter, and helps her sort through her own feelings.

What I liked about this book is that it is a story that will stick with me.  Jerome could be almost any of my students, several who live in a questionable neighborhood with possible gang violence nearby.  Many are afraid of the police.  When I’ve heard about these situations in the news, the victims are often portrayed as being older, dangerous, threatening, etc. but in reality, they’re young men, boys even.  Jerome was very young at heart and not a threat at all, but this still happened to him.  I hope this causes my students to question the way “black and brown” kids are viewed, and be aware and proactive when they find themselves faced with a situation.

What I didn’t like about this book was that the cop was let off.  But honestly?  How many times has this happened in our country?  Seriously… it’s frustrating in a book, and it should be more frustrating and obscene that it is happening today in 2018.

 Book 68 of 40

(Book 34 of 2018)

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Towers Falling

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Towers Falling (hardcover)

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

AR Level 3.3, 4 points

 

I got on a 9/11 kick and wanted to read all of the books written for children so I would have them for my class library in September.  I feel like we are doing a disservice to our students if we aren’t teaching them what happened to the Twin Towers.  I ordered this one and let my students read it first, and each one LOVED it and said I had to try it.

Deja is a homeless girl living in a shelter with her parents and two younger siblings.  Her dad is ill and shellshocked, but she doesn’t understand why he can’t work, and she has to pick up his slack.  Deja starts at a new school and meets 2 new friends – one boy is a transplant from Arizona whose parents recently divorced, and the other is a Muslim girl who is the kindest person Deja knows.  Their teachers spend September teaching them about why history is important, building up to the terrorist attack, and Deja learns a lot about her family, her friends, and her existence.

What I liked about this book was that it taught several important lessons, including the power of friendship, judging individuals instead of groups of people, and the impact history can play on the present.  I really appreciate how Rhodes taught about 9/11 through a good piece of literature so our students can learn about what happened somewhere besides a history book.  We need to make sure they understand WHY we say “Never Forget.”

What I didn’t like about this book was how ignorant Deja was about the entire situation.  It was very frustrating to me that she lived in Brooklyn her entire life, but was clueless about what happened.  How is that even possible?!

Book 1 of Summer 2017!