Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

author’s website              no video trailer found

Summary: 7 year old Tan-Tan is taken away from her world, Toussaint, by her father who is escaping a murder sentence (for poisoning his wife’s lover in a duel). The only world they can get to is a world where the prisoners are sent anyway, a world without the all-knowing “Granny Nanny” artificial intelligence that has made their planet a life of pleasure. New Half-Way Tree is a world of survival against nature and often against your fellow man. Bird-like creatures called the douen trade with the newly settled humans. Tan-Tan grows up in a harsh world.

Personal Reaction: The writing and storyline are excellent.  Rich in Afro-Carribean culture, the dialogue was hard for me to follow at first, but it wasn’t long before I figured it out, “doux-doux.” Loved the connections with Tubman and the slave boat-to-rocket history. I’ve been wanting this genre (AF Am Sci Fi) so much, but I cannot recommend it to middle grades students due to content. I’d really love recommendations for elementary and middle grades multicultural science fiction – the MAIN CHARACTER needs to be of color! And preferably on the book cover!

Any Cautions: The story opens with young Tan-Tan seeing her mother and “uncle” getting caught in a descriptive moment of adultery. Her mother and father’s relationship is terrible and both take multiple lovers. The main character is raped by her father on her 9th birthday and it continues until she murders him at age 16 (this will be her 2nd pregnancy by him as well). There is mention of him ejaculating into her mouth. Her stepmother knows what is happening but does not help and, in fact, blames Tan-Tan for being a seductress and chases the girl from village to village as a murderer.

Curriculum or discussion topics: N/A

Connections to other books: I love Octavia Butler, especially Fledgling and Parable of the Sower (both adult content); other adult sci-fi like Ringworld by Niven (with a cool animal sidekick) or even Dune by Herbert (planet survival)

Items to display with book: machete, Robber Queen attire (like the sombrero with little skulls hanging around the brim); stuffed bird of some kind

Food items connected to story: any raw fruits and vegetables will do; corn on the cob;  any meat can be passed off as “roast manicou”

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