Current. Potent. For Children. And you, too.

Wait just a moment! Find the November tree shelter of Poetry Friday tapped by Teacher Dance.

. . .

Read.
Eat.
Sleep.
Repeat.

Our driveway is graced by
a generous black mailbox
in place of
the usual skinny thing. It stands snug against
hurricanes & squirrels, guarding
incoming packages that I always
hope are stories.
I’m pleased to share a bunch of new titles,
plucked from the mailbox & also
some picked up at our thoughtful,
new indy, Mid-Town Reader.

I will devote at least two posts, maybe three, to
cover other books our mailbox sheltered.
Today’s three are highly recommended not only
for their storytelling but also for what they add to
our understanding of potent issues.
From two, I created short found poetry & from one
I offer a quotation.
Appreciations for your visit.

NOW OR NEVER!, is non-fiction for ages 11 and up
by Ray Anthony Shepard that follows
two history-making black journalists-turned-soldiers.
The men work without pay or full respect in a war erupting from a
loathsome stance of people,
including religious leaders of the South & also in the North,
who declared it was legal for white people
to buy & sell black children,
women & men as if they were hogs.
And then, those buyers had the freedom to
do with the enslaved people,
whatever additional cruelness that they wished.

Fortunately, the United States officially won the war
fought by George Stephens & James Henry Gooding.
Our impression of what it was like for the black troops is upended with this
thorough, document-packed, page-turner.
I hope the book’s readership is huge, beyond schools, museums &
& book fairs, to home bookshelves, especially at this time
when we know the uncountable & unknowable
tradegies created by the slavery business
haven’t experienced closure.

“Couriers
ride
as if for dear
life
bearing ponderous
and ominous looking
envelopes . . . ”

from John Henry Gooding’s weekly dispatch,
Oct. 10, 1863, New Bedford Mercury, in
NOW or NEVER!
54th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery

c. 2017 by Ray Anthony Shepard

Learn more about Ray Anthony Shepard,
whose grandfather was an enslaved child and whose great, great-grandparents
were enslaved.

Please know about a novel inspired when an observant young
writer visited Senegal, Africa. She was very moved by a child who sat
on a wall near a shore. And that moment made a difference for
debut author Leah Henderson’s ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL.
Another difference is that her parents created unique family travel
to places of black princesses, black cowboys, black
scholars and to historic sites of black achievement. The author
was able to grow up with experiences
feeling pride in people
who looked like her but were rarely reflected in books she read.

Now she offers the poignant & uplifting saga of loving
children adrift with the spirit guidance
of their beloved dead parents, which is is heard or seen only by the responsible
brother, Mor.
Just eleven years old, can Mor possibly be provider, protector & story-bearer to his
sisters, Mina (Amina) & Tima (Fatima.)? After page-turning troubles of
survival, Mina doesn’t wake from a sleep. What can Mor do?
The reader aches & cheers, on this journey with siblings who
sleep on mats & treasure their goat, Jeeg, & find joy with a small
stone, to transform into a doll, a bird, or a fish.
I feel this MG contemporary adventure
is important to many, including all families who read to each other, to
volunteers or teachers who read chapters in classes
including social studies, or at afterschool/weekend
programs, & to curious self-reading bookworm kids.
And it’s also a winner with adults who take a world view in
wanting to understand more about
children’s lives from all regions.

The author’s travels,
extensive research & consultation with pertinent
Sengalese insiders, experts & friends are an assurance that
ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL
is a trusted ticket to traditions and struggles most
readers, such as myself, can’t even begin to imagine
let alone present in nuanced fashion. I appreciate the
stortylling & the education.

Jeeg

Boabab.
Hollow of
tree.
Squeezed.
Mor,
Jeeg.

Hideout.

“m-a-a.”
“m-a-a.”

found in
ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL
by Leah Henderson

For more on this book & author Leah Henderson

The picture book biography,
MAMA AFRICA! by Kathryn Erskine with artwork from Charly Palmer,
follows the singing activist Makeba – Zenzile Miriam Makeba.
As a toddler she danced & sang. As a young adult, she watched a friend
die because a segregated ambulance wouldn’t treat or carry him after a car wreck.
Makeba lead and sang songs in tribe languages,
carrying powerful opposition messages, singing words
that white South Africans didn’t bother
to try to understand.

Because she eloquently & movingly asked the world to
acknowledge the existence of & help end,
apartheid, she was banished from her homeland.
An invited speaker at the U.N., Makeba asked the world to intervene
against South African’s brutal atrocities & unfair
imprisonment of black people. She appeared on stage
with Martin Luther King. Jr.
& with Harry Belafonte to advocate for justice.
She lost relatives murdered during suppression of blacks and
felt empowered to work
internationally in defense of children, women & men who suffered
the constant terrors. The incident many can cite is the killing of
peaceful children in Soweto township.
In 1990, Makeba returned to a hard-fought, changing
South Africa & saw Nelson Mandela walk out of prison.

The author, as a young white child, enjoyed black friendships
in defiance of apartheid South Africa, during temporary years there.
Heartfelt author photographs & notes offer long-held connections to
the theme. The text is lyrical. Illustrations from artist Charly Palmer
are an artsong of pulsing color, layered & bold.

Songs of call, response!

Khawuleza
alerting song – police approach
Lakutshona Ilanga
searching song – jails & prisons hold missing loved ones
Mayibuye iAfrika
returning song – Africa should be for native Africans
Mbaeke iAfrika
returning song – land should go to rightful owners
Ndoemnyama
forertelling song – apartheid will fail

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika
asking song – “God Bless Africa”

found in
MAMA AFRICA!
How Miriam Mekeba Spread Hope with her Song
c. 2017 Kathryn Erskine

Learn more about KATHRYN ERSKINE, a popular novelist for young readers, who has won the National Book Award. I have read many of her novels, which mean a great deal to me, especially MOCKINGBIRD. She has a new novel, THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING, one of my postal box finds I look forward to being with, soon.

Learn more about artist CHARLY PALMER

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22 thoughts on “Current. Potent. For Children. And you, too.

  1. Oh, Jan, it’s a wonderful post. Thank you for finding words for poems from these books.The ‘call and response’ is poignant. How lovely to have a taste of each book. The first two are new to me and I’ve noted them. Mama Africa is on the way from the library, after several holds before me! I love Kathryn Erskine’s books, too, and ‘magic’ is also on my list! Thanks for all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing these stories and your found poems from them. Each looks good, and I’m looking forward to reading and sharing them. I particularly enjoyed learning about the author whose parents took her on journeys to learn about our history from experiencing the places where it happened. Now if we could just get our history books and history classes to include more of all of our history so more can learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All aboard for your great idea, Kay. It cheers me that the regional, state & national history fairs seem to hold their own or even increase each year. I am sure you will enjoy these reads. I agree –
      let’s applaud parents who make history part of their walks, picnics & vacation travels.

      Like

  3. If you loved One Shadow on the Wall, you should read Outside In by Jennifer Bradbury. It is about an orphaned street boy in India and about how his life was saved by an artist and art. (The artist was a real person.)

    Like

    • Appreciations, Mary Lee. I especially am all-in when real events inspire good fiction.
      And to think that a street child’s life was saved . . . so glad the author you mention (new to me) found that story.

      Like

  4. I think what hits me about all these important and rich books is the uncanny timeliness to what’s occurring in the world today, the lack of indifference from some towards others, this makes them all the more powerful and poignant. I especially like your Boabab found poem, it has a strong rhythmic call. Thanks for sharing all of these Jan!

    Like

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