Thursday, June 29, 2006
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
This is a MHL nominee for next school year. It's about a high school English class in the inner city and the Friday poetry readings that reveal the lives of the students and bring the class together. It's loosely narrated by Tyronne, who at first thinks school is a joke and that he has no future. The format is to read a little of the inner thoughts of a character, then to read the poem that that character reads to the class. Janelle is overweight and wants people to see her as she is on the inside. Devon is a smart jock who secretly goes to the library to read and study. Chankara was smacked by her boyfriend and is through letting people beat up on her. Raul is an artist who wants to paint the beauty of his people. Gloria has a baby and is determined to go on to college. Lupe wishes she could have a baby to love her. I did think it was a bit unrealistic that all these kids could (and would) write wonderful poems revealing their inner selves, but it was fun to read their stories and poems, and it is most definitely a well-written book. I'm not sure how middle school students will like this one--it will be interesting to find out.