Lester, Julius. Sam and the Tigers. New York: Dial Books.1996 ISBN
In this picture book Julius Lester and
Jerry Pinkney has re-invented the very controversial story Little Black Sambo. Sam
and the Tigers is an endearing tale about a black boy that out smarts a tiger. Sam
the protagonist lives in the town of Sam-sam-sa-mara where everyone is names Sam to avoid confusion. In the town animals and people live and work together, because they didnt know that
they werent supposed to-except for the tigers.
Sams mother takes him to the town market
to buy his back to school clothes. After Sams mother picks out a dull brown jacket
Sam tells his mother that he is old enough to choose his own clothes. Sam chooses a red jacket; purple pants; yellow shirt;
silver shoes; and a purple umbrella. On his way to school the next day, he runs
into the tiger that wants to ea him up. Sam offers the tiger his coat instead,
the tiger accepts his jacket. Sam and the tiger story continue until Sam is left
standing in his underwear. Sam and the tiger get into a fight over who looks
fine, Sam wears back his wonderful clothes- and enough butter and pancakes for
the whole neighborhood.
Lester captures the heart and soul of this
community through the Southern Black voice that tells Sams story. Pinkney watercolor illustration gives the characters varying
personalities. No two characters whether animal or human look alike. They have
different hairstyle, and clothing representing their role in the community. Many young students will not know the history
of this story, they will only grow to love how Sam has out smarted the tiger. But,
for older readers you may have to defend your reason for choosing Sam and the Tiger as a read aloud.
Taylor, Mildred D. Song of the Trees. New York: Dial Books. 1975.
This chapter book is about a strong black family that lives in Mississippi
during the Great Depression. The Logan
family owns the land that they are farming. This is the first book in a series that Mildred D. Taylor has written about the
Logan Family. Events that Taylors writes about are stories
her father told about her own family. Song
of the Trees plot centers around Cassie Logan. She wakes up one morning and the
whisper song of the trees is gone, the trees that are part of the Logan
farm are Cassies friends. The illustrations by Jerry Pinkney are pen and ink
that capture each member of the Logan families individual
characteristics and emotions as they watch their forest being cut down. . Taylor does not write
in Southern dialect but you can hear the Mississippi tone
in her words, you hear pride in David words when he confonts the white loggers on his land.
In her book she begins to tell the story of conflict between blacks and whites in the south during the 1930s. Her words paint a picture of lives of Black in America.
David Logan is away in Louisiana
laying tracks for the railroad. He sends money home for the family, but his last
letter arrived empty without the much needed ten dollars. At breakfast Big Ma
tells Mary that she should write David and tell him about the missing money, and how they are running out of food. Mary refuses to write her husband believing that the family can survive on farm goods. Later that morning the Logan children go
berry picking. As they walk deeper into the forest in search of berry bush they
see white marks of the tree trunks. The white Xs on the trees puzzle the children. They hear the voice of two men talking about cutting down the trees that are marked.
The children run back to the house to tell their mother what they have heard.
In this book Taylor
portrays the Logan Family as one that will not be taken advantage of by white American.
They are a loving family that works the land that they own. David Logan
is doing all he can to take care of his family and his land. This book portrays
a picture of Black America that is not often written about the pride. At the
end of the story David arrives to save the forest he tells the loggers that he will blow up the forest. He says One thing
you cant seem to understand, is that a black mans always gotta be ready to die. And
it dont make me any difference if I die today or tomorrow. Just as long as I
Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion. New York: Putnam's Sons. 2003. ISBN 0399231153.
Locomotion tells the story of Lonnie C. Motion in the form of poetic narrative using haiku, epistle, list, letters, and sonnets.
Locomotion is a story of hope, love and family. Lonnie Collins Motion is eleven years old. His world is devastated at the
age of seven when his parents are killed in a fire. He is separated from his sister Lili who is adopted by a rich family.
Lonnie is put in a group home until he goes to live with Miss Edna. With the love of his foster mother, teacher, Ms. Marcus
he begins to heal from the trauma of his past.
Woodsons unravels Locomotions life on the streets of New York, giving Locomotion his stage for his urban poetry. Woven into
the 60 poems is urban street language that will make the book real to Woodson young adult audience. The poetry revolves around
events that help Lonnie deal with sorrow and joys in his life. Woodson allows Lonnie voice to tell a story of loss, grief,
Myers, Walter Dean. Monster. New York: HarperTempest. 1999. ISBN
In this book about a young African American man set in New York City is on trial for his life. The plot centers on Steve Harmon a 16-year-old young man that has been charged as an adult accomplice to
murder. Once again Myers successfully portrays
an authentic teen voice through realistic dialect. Myers
keeps even the reluctant reader turning the pages written in the form of movie scrip. Christopher Myers black and white photographs
present timeline of Steves actions before and after the robbery: photos with his mother, on the drugstore surveillance cameras,
and his mug shot, that add a foreshadowing tone to the book.
Steve Harmon could possible spend
the rest of his life in prison. Was he the lookout for the drugstore robbery or was he at the wrong place at the wrong time?
Steve who has dreams of going to college and one day producing movies sees his future slowly slipping away from him. The only
way that Steve can handle prison and trial is if he presents it as a movie script. The attorney present their cases before
the jury and the drama builds just at it would in a movie. The reader is drawn into the story through each question the lawyers
ask and the witness that brought to the stand to testify. Is Steve the Monster, that the prosecutor says he is, or is he a
Myers has a passion for writing about contemporary issues focusing on young African American males lifestyle.