Zero Fade

Jacket• Grade Range: 7th-adult
• Humor/Coming of age
• Author: Chris L. Terry
• Title: Zero Fade
• Publisher: Curbside Splendor Publishing
• 2013
• 295 pages.
• ISBN: 9780988480438
• Awards: In the Margins top 25, Best of 2013 lists-Kirkus & Slate.com
• Author’s website: http://www.chrislterry.com/


It is the mid 90’s in inner city Richmond and Kevin is in 7th grade. For nine days in April so are we. It’s Saturday morning and Kevin is getting a haircut in the basement from his Mama when what he really wants is a sick fade and a chance to spend Saturday with someone fine, like orange-haired Aisha. While his dad is no longer around, Kevin has a tight family, a mom going to school and holding a job, an older sister Laura and an admired uncle Paul: his mom’s baby brother. While Kevin narrates most chapters, Paul gets a turn too. He’s gay and he knows it’s time to tell his nephew; problem is his nephew: pining to be cool, desperate to get with a girl and a fan of Eddie Murphy’s gay bashing humor, doesn’t seem ready to hear what he has to say. Add into the mix Kevin’s inability to control his smart mouth, getting grounded, a classic bully, the nastiness of his mother getting a date before he does and an ill-advised adventure with his sister, and Kevin has a full week.

There are a ton of fabulous 2014 books I plan to add to this blog, but as I peruse the best of 2014 lists I can’t forget some of my favorites from last year. Every once in awhile I come across a book I just adore that doesn’t seem to get traction in the press. In many ways those are the books I most want to feature here-genuinely fantastic books you might miss and which deserve to be widely read

In Zero Fade Terry has written a hilariously funny, honest, warm and believable YA novel that easily crosses over with adults. It is a rare book that manages to make the YouthLibraries.org In the Margins award list of “the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three” and win over a diverse range of folk on Goodreads: from self identified ‘old ladies’ to those who don’t even like YA. The novel comes across as genuine, surprising and very recognizable, which is fabulous for kids who share Kevin’s ethnicity and or background, but equally fabulous for those who don’t.  Consider this apt perspective from 13 year-old Kevin: “crying in school is like peeing yourself. It feels good to get it out, but you wind up with a bigger problem.”

Thank heavens Kevin is a winningly imperfect teen, with virtually nothing figured out. He fantasizes about being a stand up comic and wonders “[w]hat about my life would be funny later? Not getting any? No cable?” The book is packed with vernacular language, fresh observation and a complete lack of didacticism. When his uncle Paul gives him some good advice: “I mean, just keep doing your thing. There’s always gonna be someone wanna say something, so just do you.” Kevin rightly thinks “[b]ut I’ve been doing me and it ain’t working.” What teen hasn’t had this response to a well meaning adult advising them to “be yourself.”

What I love about Zero Fade is it’s strong sense of ethnicity and place. It deals with substantive issues. It is frank. It is also very, very funny, very human and very relatable. If I can get a single seventh grader to read it I am convinced I’ll get half the class. Likely this won’t be without controversy as there is occasional talk of titties and masturbation and lots of language inappropriate to school. I wonder if this is why this first novel by Terry didn’t win the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe award for new talent. Never the less I am convinced this exactly the kind of multicultural literature we need for kids, both for those who see Kevin in their reflection and for those who see Kevin in themselves on reflection.


Sons of the 613

Jacket-1• Grade Range: 7th-high school
• Humor/Coming of age
• Author: Michael Rubens
• Title: Sons of the 613
• Publisher: Clarion
• 2012
• 320 pages.
• ISBN: 978-0547612164
• Awards: selected by Kirkus, YALSA and VOYA as one of the best books of the year.
• Author’s website:http://www.michaelrubens.com


Sons of the 613 opens with a Bar Mitzvah-fail of epic proportions. Isaac, aghast in the audience and three weeks away from his own Bar Mitzvah, knows he’s in “terrible, terrible, terrible trouble.’ He has concealed the fact that for the past many months his Hebrew tutor has never shown up. His determination to come clean to his parents is stymied when they leave town and put his brother Josh in charge. Six foot three, 245 pounds of muscle, sporting a skull and crossbones yarmulke and a tattoo that testifies to his obedience to the 613 commandments in the Tanakh, twenty-year old Josh has his own ideas about what Isaac needs to learn to become a man. So begins an epic, hilarious and touching quest.

Isaac’s rite of passage is filled with outrageous comedy, boatloads of adolescent shame and angst, bar fights, strip clubs, double-dares and growing maturity. There is much that might offend, but Rubens, in his YA debut, uses the comic skills he employed producing the Daily Show to keep the plot moving and Isaac self-deprecatingly aware of his mistakes. Isaac’s maturation process is messy, painful, decidedly not parent-approved, occasionally too cinematic, and sure to delight teen readers. This book is rarely on the shelves of the library and it is one of the titles that frequently walks, precisely because it appeals to the kids who are not the typical, compliant library users; there in lies it’s charm and power. Kids are constantly looking for the information they know they need as they hurtle through adolescence. While there are many fabulous books in our K-8 library, there are not a lot-maybe no others- that speak so directly to the actual concerns of teen-age boys.



Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

Jacket-7• Grade Range: 5th-8th
• Current events related title
• Sy Montgomery
• Temple Grandin: How the Girl who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World.
• Publisher: Boston, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
• 2012
• 147 pages.
• ISBN: 978-0-547-44315-7
• Awards: NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K—12: 2013~Booklist Top 10 Books for Youth 2013~ALSC 2013 Notable Children’s Books, Older Readers;
• Author’s website: http://symontgomery.com/

Autism prevented Temple Grandin from speaking until she was five, isolating her from her peers and family. Autism also allowed her to perceive as animals do: in pictures and with a similar sensitivity to stimulus. Ms. Grandin uses these strengths to advocate for farmed animals and has become a worldwide authority on how to design our food system to treat animals more humanely.

Sy Montgomery interviews Grandin, her friends and family and tells the inspiring story of her life. Lots of photographs, Temple’s drawings and attractive and informal design help to break up the text. Early in Temple’s life few would have predicted she would have a PhD., an international career and be the subject of a biopic starring Claire Danes. Montgomery and Grandin don’t sugarcoat the disruptive behaviors and learning difficulties that Temple struggled with. They chronicle the important breakthroughs: an aunt with a ranch, a kind science teacher, a discovery of a door that became a lifelong metaphor and motivator. Most important Temple learned how to persevere, despite bullies, workplace harassment, and bias. Through her close sympathy with animals she found something worth working for.

The book functions on three levels: as a triumphant role-model biography of a woman with a learning difference, as a story about an animal loving change-maker within the food industry and as a universal tale of the struggle to find one’s place in the world.

Montgomery goes to great lengths to explain autism in concrete terms that children will understand. Sometimes this is very effective: as when she explains why autistic children often twirl or engage in repetitive behavior. On a few occasions her pronouncements come off as overly reductive: “others, whose autism is milder, may be nerdy, geeky kids who grow up to make computers in Silicon Valley.” Like all ‘may’ statements this one could just as easily read ‘may not.’ What compels are the many concrete examples from Grandin’s childhood, which help establish both context and sympathy. Even as an adult Grandin retains a childlike quality that delights, as when she responds to a bullying gross-out tour at a meat packing plant by stomping her feet in the deepest, yuckiest pool of blood: liberally spattering the plant manager. According to Montgomery current data indicates 1 in 100 people are affected by autism. It is also true that an increasingly large number of children’s and YA books feature autistic characters, making this a topic with plenty of currency.

Grandin’s empathy with animals and her practical advocacy on their behalf are very appealing. Many kids, who struggle with social relationships and overwhelming emotions during adolescence, will readily identify with Temple’s assertion that animals saved her. The neatness that she, in turn, now saves them from unnecessary distress, makes sense. And, in a world where most food oriented books for kids emphasize organics and small-scale producers, it is refreshing to read one focused on large-scale applications. Grandin is eminently practical: she makes the case that partnering with huge firms like McDonalds allows her to affect the welfare of billions of food animals in the United States. Rather than being the bad guys, we see how giant corporations can be tremendous forces for reform; more than half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled is systems Grandin designed.

Front matter: A foreword by Temple Grandin speaks directly to kids about her experiences and offers advice and encouragement. Back matter: An appendix offers seven pieces of advice from Temple to kids on the spectrum. A selected bibliography and resources provides books, articles, many websites and even a couple movies used in researched and/or recommended by Temple for kids, teachers and parents. The list, while divided by category, doesn’t indicate the recommended age group, thought titles are often indicative. Acknowledgements, a photo of Temple and her mother, photo credits and an index conclude the book.

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain

Jacket• Grade Range: 5-8.
• Diversity related title
• Author Russell Freedman
• Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
• Publisher:Boston, Clarion Books
• 2014
• 81 pages.
• ISBN: 978-0-547-90378-1
• Awards: Richie’s Picks, Just published in 2014.
• Author’s website: the author does not appear to have a website.

A park ranger’s discovery of Chinese calligraphic poems etched into the walls of the derelict Angel Island detention station sets in motion the preservation of the remains of the Ellis Island of the West. Freedman tells the larger story of immigration on the West Coast and the shameful history of institutional and individual discrimination against Chinese immigrants.

Freedman begins the story with Weiss’s enthusiastic discovery: ” I looked around and shined my flashlight up and I could see that the entire wall was covered with calligraphy. And that was what blew me away…People had carved the stuff on every square inch of wall space.” An immigrant himself, Weiss identified with those who had been held in the immigration-processing center and, alarmed by its planned demolition, alerted a former professor connected to the Asian community, which then rallied support for its preservation.

What makes the story particularly poignant was how close we came to losing, not only the poems-which were considered graffiti, but also this most significant reminder of an important, and very uncomfortable piece of American history. Freedman summarizes the story of Asian immigration clearly, concisely and well, making it accessible to middle school children. He gives background on the racism facing Asian immigrants, particularly Chinese, citing the Chinese Exclusion Act: the only immigration law to target a specific ethnicity. He describes how the Gold Rush drew immigrants hoping for a better life and how whites resented Chinese competition in mining, and after the economic downturn in 1873, resented them even more for their willingness to work hard for low wages. It is understandable that governments and labor groups don’t like to recall their role in Asian persecution, but Freedman notes that Asians, humiliated by the aggressive screening and long detentions at Angel Island, were similarly unwilling to remember a period of history that they found shameful.

Freedman points out how much Chinese immigrants contributed to the United States, helping to build not only railroads but also farming infrastructure. He takes pains to point out the ways they fought back against racist laws. The resistance to the Geary Law, that required all Chinese to carry identity cards, is considered the largest act of civil disobedience in U.S. History. While he mentions some of the violence against Chinese: the L.A. riots, he does not emphasize how pervasive the violence was, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, and how it dramatically changed settlement patterns; Chinese were effectively driven into large urban ghettos that afforded protection in numbers. Nor in this slim book does Freedman take the time to fully explore the fascinating subject of the gender imbalance among Asian immigrants and the huge problem of forced prostitution that spawned, and then was reinforced by, punitive laws. He does touch briefly on the practice of paper sons and daughters that allowed Chinese to enter on assumed identities after the earthquake destroyed San Francisco’s records.

His chapters on the history of the Angel Island station broaden the scope and include other immigrant ethnicities: Russians: fleeing the revolution, Japanese brides: travelling for arranged marriages, and South Asian freedom fighters. The handsomely produced book has many wonderful historic photographs that put faces on these large movements of people. Freedman helps personalize the history: including many first person accounts from those who passed through Angel Island.

Front matter includes contents. Back Matter includes source notes divided by chapter. A note clarifies the sources of quotations, providing a bibliographic key, and notes the translation source of poems. A selected bibliography does not contain annotations or indications of which books are suited for children. Acknowledgements thank a California librarian who suggested the topic. Picture credits and an index conclude the book. No websites are included.

This book is an excellent start to a fascinating topic. It does not attempt to cover all the aspects of Asian immigration. I wish Freedman had included kid friendly sources for further reading such as William Daley’s The Chinese Americans, the Hoobler’s The Chinese American Family Album, Emmey Werner’s Passages to America: Oral histories of Child Immigrants from Ellis Island and Angel Island, and the child friendly, if disturbing, book of period cartoons: Choy’s The Coming Man: 19th Century American Perceptions of the Chinese. There are also many excellent websites devoted specifically to Angel Island and its poetry:
http://www.aiisf.org/, which offers a video virtual tour, has stories of immigrants who passed through the station and notes upcoming events.
http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/asian-american/angel_island/index.htm tells the story of one 7 year-old Chinese girl’s experience immigrating to America through Angel Island.
http://www.cetel.org/angel_poetry.html Reproduces a handful of the poems.
A site devoted to the poetry and its history.

The Dark Game: True Spy Stories

Jacket-2• Grade Range: 5-8
• Adventure related title
• Paul B Janeczko
• The Dark Game
• Publisher: Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press
• 2010
• 248 pages.
• ISBN: 978-0-763-62915-1
• Awards: YALSA-ALA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction finalist
• Author’s website: http://www.paulbjaneczko.com/index.htm

Six self-contained chapters tell intriguing stories of spies and their craft, from the American Revolution through the Cold War. Janeczko makes the point that often, marginalized groups: women, African Americans, Native Americans and even one handicapped individual, made excellent spies, as bias prevented them from being perceived as either a threat or a resource.

While the chronological chapters are self-contained there are some overarching themes. Taken together the chapters tell a rough history of spying as it affected the United States from the Revolutionary War into the end of the 20th century. Janeczko traces the increasing professionalization of espionage as America moved from all amateur spies: including Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin and the amazing WWII double agent: Juan Pujol, to a trained force, schooled in combat, cyber-espionage, sabotage, survival skills, and codes and ciphers. While the professional training has lots of 007 appeal, it is the stories of the amateurs that capture the imagination, in part because they are a far more diverse group: Harriet Tubman and her 300 strong unit of African-American riverboat pilots and soldiers who rescued 800 slaves, an intrepid WWII agent Virginia Hall, who named her wooden leg Cuthbert, Choctaw code talkers, Rebel Rose the Confederate socialite spy and her opposite Van Lew the spinster who helped organize the daring behind-enemy-lines escape of 109 Union soldiers from Libby Prison.

The book is focused on spies associated with the United States; this includes double agents, Allies in both world wars and foreign saboteurs on U.S. soil. Of particular interest is the little known story of the extensive and effective sabotage carried out in the U.S. by German agents during World War I.

The organization of the book allows readers to dip in an out, reading about time periods or incidents of special interest. The text is enhanced by primary source photos and pictures of ciphers, which are a particular interest of Mr. Janeczko, (Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing, Candlewick 2004, Loads of Codes and Secret Ciphers, Simon & Schuster 1984). While most readers will be drawn to the book for the fun of it, the material is well researched enough to be useful in reports. The author’s enthusiasm and fascination with the topic comes through clearly.

The writing is plain and rather inelegant, but doesn’t detract from the compelling stories. Of course some information is missing or is debatable. After a fascinating account of the story behind the Zimmerman telegram: which precipitated U.S. entry into WWI, Janeczko repeats the assertion that “never before or since has so much turned upon the solution of a secret message”. The idea that U.S. troops were what turned the tide in WWI is a discredited theory. I could also wish there was more about the appalling Allen Dulles and the fact that, on his watch, undiscovered Russian moles sent thousands of CIA agents to their death and undercut U.S. espionage effectiveness for decades. But these are minor quibbles; overall The Dark Game is a fascinating, eye-opening and very appealing read for middle school kids.

Front matter: The Contents helpfully subdivides the six chapters into four named topics per chapter, giving readers a sense of what the chapters cover and allowing them to focus on topics or individuals of particular interest. An introduction explains the author’s historic interest in, and enthusiasm for, the subject. Back Matter: Source notes are broken down by chapter and quotes are attributed. An extensive bibliography is included. Photography credits are also broken down by chapter, making it easy to learn where an image came from.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Jacket-5• Grade Range: 3rd-Adult
• Diversity related title
• Author and Illustrator Kadir Nelson
• We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
• Publisher: New York, Jump at the Sun
• 88 pages.
• ISBN: 978-0-7868-0832-8
• Awards: 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Award~ 2009Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor~2009 Sibert Winner~ 2008 Casey Award.
• Author’s website: https://www.kadirnelson.com/

From 1887 until 1945 an unofficial ‘gentleman’s agreement’ closed major league baseball to African American players. They responded with their own storied Negro League filled with fantastic athletes and fascinating characters. In a conversational style, Kadir Nelson tells the story of this legendary group, illustrating the tales with gorgeous and heroic full-page paintings.

This is one of those books that tells an important story but is so fun and infectious that it draws readers in regardless of their interest in history, civil rights or baseball. The illustrations have so much style, strength and power the reader instantly believes in the greatness of what’s pictured and wants to know more.

Nelson narrates in the first-person persona of an old-timer who was there; the reader feels lucky to be able to draw up a chair and hear the tale. We quickly learn that the kind of baseball the Negro-leaguers played had plenty of flash and drama. After some white umpires called a game, they apologize for their mistakes; they had never seen that style of play. Recognizing the crowd-pleasing appeal they said “if they played like we did in the majors, they’d have to make the parks bigger to seat all the fans.”

Readers learn that it wasn’t just innovative play that the Negro League bequeathed to baseball, it was safety equipment too. The Negro Leagues style of play was so edgy and rough players resorted to wearing a mining helmet when at bat and placing barrel staves in their socks to avoid being slashed by spikes. Night baseball was another Negro League innovation.

Nelson also recounts the impact Jim Crow attitudes had on the players as they traveled through unfriendly areas: unable to find food, lodging or even a place to go to the bathroom. Often they would play multiple games in one day. The stories and statistics leave little doubt that Negro-League baseball and its players were the best show in town; readers feel what a shame it was that more of the world didn’t get to see them play. But eventually the Major League recognized they needed the talent and draw of the best Negro League players.The ninth chapter, or inning, recounts Jackie Robinson’s integration of Major League baseball in 1945. And the chapter Extra Innings tells of the withering demise of the Negro Leagues as their best players and their fans went to the majors.

We Are the Ship is exquisitely designed. The copyright and dedication pages have quotations from Negro league greats in various sized pale font so that the reader feels they are overhearing snippets from a great party in the next room. A two-page spread of a ticket to the first Colored World Series folds out into a four-page spread of the two teams in front of a crowd. More than every other page is filled with stunning art that has as much muscular power, and more gravitas, than a Thomas Hart Benton.

Front matter includes three pages of quotes from negro league greats, the eponymous quote by Rube Foster and a foreword by Hank Aaron. Back matter includes ‘Extra Innings,’ which recounts the demise of Negro League ball, which struggled on after integration until 1960. Hall-of-Fame Negro Leaguers and those who have made the Hall of Fame are listed. A thoughtful Author’s Note, acknowledgements, a bibliography, filmography, endnotes, and an index conclude the book.

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels

• Diversity related title
• Age Range: Grades 6th-Adult
• Author: Tanya Lee Stone
• Title: Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels
• Publisher: Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press
• 2013
• 148 pages.
• ISBN: 978-0-7636-5117-6
• Awards: YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist~NAACP Image Award Nominee in Literature~Orbis Pictus Honor Book~Publishers Weekly Best Books 2013~Kirkus Best Books of 2013~Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2014~2014 Texas Tayshas Reading List~TOP TEN ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2014~ALSC 2014 Notables Children’s Book AND ALSC 2014 Notables Children’s Recording~YALSA Amazing Audio Pick~Washington Post’s Best New Reads of 2013~Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 2013 Blue Ribbon List~BuzzFeed’s 20 Best Children’s Books of 2013~NYPL’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing~Booklist Editor’s Choice & Booklist’s 2013 “Lasting Connections”~Best Multicultural Books of 2013 (Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature)~A Parents’ Choice Award Recommended Title
• Author’s website: http://www.tanyastone.com/

During World War II America fought the world’s worst racist with a racially segregated army. Stone tells the fascinating and little known story of the first black paratrooper unit: the Triple Nickels, and their efforts to win a measure of acceptance and an opportunity to fight for their nation, even if it wasn’t ready to fight for them.

Stone crafts a handsome, moving and important account of a wrongly overlooked piece of American history. Using myriad primary sources and many historic photographs she brings to life the racism and segregation prevalent in the military and society at large, and shows how black service men survived the slights and violence, overcoming oppression and proving they merited a full measure of equality. As paratrooper Clarence Beaver said, “We wanted to be a full partner within the war. We did not want to go through the war saying ‘I washed the dishes.”

Trying to keep up the morale of his troops First Sergeant Walter Morris sought to “wipe out the idea that black men weren’t good enough or smart enough to jump out of airplanes. He wanted his soldiers to know that they were as up to the task as anyone else.” His efforts to train his soldiers, even before there was any place in the army for black paratroopers, placed him and his men in the right place at the right time. When the Triple Nickels were formed they were the first in line and Morris was served as first sergeant.

Not only does Stone reveal heroic deeds and fascinating characters, she brings to light one of the best kept secrets of World War II: Japanese balloon bombs that targeted the Pacific coast. This is a thorough, well-documented history full of unforgettable anecdotes, perfect for anyone interested in World War II, civil rights, American history or stories of courage and perseverance.
“Morris experienced the sting of seeing German and Italian prisoners of war buying cigarettes and candy at the post exchange. ‘Those men,’ he later recalled, ‘prisoners who killed American soldiers…[could] buy cigarettes or whatever they wanted to, but we…couldn’t go into the post exchange.’ …We’re in uniform, but we’re not good enough to sit at the table with the prisoners of war!’”

In extensive back matter Stone describes the story behind the story, describing her motivations, research techniques and philosophy. An appendix lists the test platoon and first six officers followed by a timeline of desegregation and the Triple Nickels. Detailed source notes, an extensive and varied bibliography and photography credits leave no doubt as to where information was obtained. An extensive index and acknowledgements conclude this handsomely produced and scrupulously researched addition to American history.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

• Current issues title
• Age Range: Grades 8th-adult
• Author and photographer: Susan Kuklin
• Title: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
• Publisher: Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press
• 2014
• 182 pages.
• ISBN: 978- 0-7636-5611-9
• Awards: Just published~Booklist starred review
• Author’s website: http://www.susankuklin.net/

Six transgender teens from diverse backgrounds share their experiences growing up and transitioning to their preferred gender identity. Immersive first-person accounts include brief editorial comments in a distinct typeface and, where permitted by the subject, illuminating photo essays.

Kuklin privileges the reader with an opportunity to hear the thoughtful and heartfelt reflections of six transgender teens. Despite the diversity of their backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences, what comes across clearly is the realization that as regards identity: gender is one variable and sexual orientation is another. Italicized authorial interjections help tie the narrative together and supply context but sometimes feel didactic: “School made Mariah feel like a loser, so she acted like a loser.” However the clear distinction between the teen’s stories and the editorial remarks allows the reader the freedom to keep perspectives clear and form their own judgments.

These personal reflections on identity, sexuality, societal expectations and biases, relations with peers and parents are fascinating in their own right for all readers. They are particularly useful for those who have a personal or professional stake in transgender experience. This is a valuable tool for expanding understanding of a marginalized group.

Back matter includes a detailed author’s note that outlines the research and interview process, essays that describe the work of the two featured organizations that work with transgender youth, commonly asked questions and answers about transgender issues, a glossary, and list of varies resources: including an extensive list of service and advocacy organizations.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights


  • Diversity related title
  • Age Range: Grades 7-adult
  • Author: Steve Sheinkin
  • Title: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights.
  • Publisher: New York, Roaring Brook
  • 2014
  • 200 pages.
  • ISBN: 978-1-59643-796-8
  • Awards: Just published January 2014…they are sure to come.
  • Author’s website: http://www.stevesheinkin.com/

A deadly munitions explosion at a segregated Naval-base near San Francisco during World War II leads to a mutiny trial of 50 African-American Navy men. Sheinkin dramatically relates events surrounding the trial and argues their fight for justice precipitated civil-rights gains in the military and society at large.

Once again Sheinkin brings strong writing and cinematic flair to a thoroughly researched and engrossing topic. Quotes based on interviews and primary sources combined with historic and contemporary photographs bring to life the riveting and chilling story of the systematic racism and segregation that precipitated the largest loss of life on U.S. soil during World War II as well as the largest mutiny trial in U.S. history. The evidence is compelling that their sacrifice and courage effected military and societal integration.

Front-matter includes a list of the Port Chicago 50, and contents. Back-matter includes extensive source notes, a list of works cited, acknowledgements, picture credits, and an index.


The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students


  • Diversity related title
  • Age Range: Grades 7-high school
  • Author: Suzanne Jurmain
  • Title: The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students.
  • Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin
  • 2005
  • 150 pages.
  • ISBN: 978-0618-47302-1
  • Awards: An Orbis Pictus Honor Book~ALA Notable Children’s Book~ALA Best Book for Young Adults~Booklist Editor’s Choice~ Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book for 2005~Booklist Top 10 Black History Book for Youth~James Madison Book Award Honor Book~SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Award Winner~Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts~ Once Upon a World Honor Book.
  • Author’s website: http://www.suzannejurmain.com/

In 1833, when respectable women were expected to be demure and unassuming, Prudence Crandall caused a firestorm of protest and outrage. Her efforts to open a school for African-American girls sent shock-waves through her Connecticut town and the nation.

Jurmain tells an important story that helps fill in the vast gaps between slavery and the civil rights movement. An effective use of historical bullet points early on immerses the reader in the tenor of the times. While extensive research allows a clear picture of the conflict to emerge and there are plenty of direct quotes, the account is padded with supposition about what people likely thought or said.

Front matter includes contents, an acknowledgment and a note to the reader about the use of historic race words. Back matter includes an epilogue that briefly describes African American education from the Civil War to the present, an extensive appendix of facts about Crandall’s students, friends & enemies, notes on sources, an extensive bibliography, photo credits and an index.