Date reviewed: 1/31/05 author’s website
Grade: 5+ AUDIOBOOK format
Personal Reaction: I didn’t like this book as much as I did Monster, by any stretch. The audiobook was good, maybe easier to understand for students by listening to the different storylines. 1. David’s dad is crazy, mom doesn’t protect the kids enough; 2. David’s older brother is running with a street gang and using drugs, problem unresolved – maybe that’s how life goes?; 3. Friend Loren plays basketball with David and IM’s, not much else; 3. Female friend Sessi’s family is trying to earn citizenship papers, builds a rooftop African Kikuyu dwelling, and speaks of cultural pride; 4. Old man claims to keep dreams: problem for readers – are these dreams/visions or are these dreams/goals? As stated in review from School Library Journal, there is some basis for discussion of why black men/people cannot overcome their feeling that whites are trying to repress them.
Discussion or classroom uses: Dreams – African Americans as basis, but also would be interesting to discuss what the “American” dream is/was & for whom or go through other cultures’s goals; mental illness; neighborhood pride; homeless
Connections to other books? Fiction and non-fiction dealing with cultural dreams, mental illness (Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry by Bebe Campbell), etc. The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes or The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama. Seedfolks by Fleischman might be a bit of a stretch for neighborhood pride, but I like it. Choosing a Career As a Pilot
Realia: basketball; model or photo of Kikuyu home; Spider-Man comic, blood spatter; photo of older, homeless, black man; construction tools or paintbrush, etc.; medication bottle; book about piloting as a career; small American flag, photos or timeline of black struggles, Civil Rights, slavery, etc.
Food items connected to story: pancakes, coffee, fruit yogurt, sugar doughnuts