2 Coretta Scott King Book award winners.

CSK Winner - Watermark“The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.” from the ALA website  http://www.ala.org/emiert/cskbookawarde

 one crazy summer

Williams-Gracia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad/HarperCollins Publishers, 2010. 218 pages

$16.89 ISBN 978-0-06-076089-2

Delphine, Vonetta and Fern spend a summer with their estranged mother in Oakland, CA in 1968, where there they attend a day camp run by the Black Panthers.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Age Range: 9-14

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality. 5 out of 5 for popularity


Coretta Scott King Award, 2011

Newbery Honor, 2011

Scott O’Dell Award, 2011

National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature, 2010


Delphine, Vonetta and Fern were abandoned by their mother when Fern was a baby, but now are heading out to spend the summer with her in Oakland. Set in 1968, this book explores the way the Black Panthers participated in social justice and outreach, for the 3 sisters, this means Black Panther day camp, free breakfast and performing at a rally. Delphine, the eldest at 11, mothers her two younger sisters, and tries to understand the strange, distant woman who is their mother, but who does not behave the way she thinks a mother ought too.

This is an excellent, likable book that imparts a little history and a little social consciousness into a story of a young girl and her mother. The story does not follow predictable patterns and I found the resolution to be satisfying without being schmaltzy.


Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you heard of the Black Panthers before this book? Were they portrayed the way you expected? What was different or the same?
  2. How did the girl’s performance at the rally effect their experience of the summer and of their mother?

Book Talking Points:

Black Panthers! An unsupervised visit to San Francisco. Chinese food every day. Black Power Day Camp.


Author Website http://www.ritawg.com/

National Book Award Interview with the author

Author discusses the book





Nelson, Marilyn. Carver: A Life Poems. Front Street/Boyds Mills Press, 2001. 112 pages. $16.95 ISBN-13: 978-1886910539

Using poetry, the author tells the life of George Washington Carver through the voices of the people he interacted with.

Genre: Biography/ Nonfiction/ Poetry

Age Range: 11-15

Rating: 5 out 5 for quality. 3 out of 5 for popularity


Boston Globe Horn Book – Fiction & Poetry Winner, 2001

Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2002

Newbery Honor Book, 2002

George Washington Carter was born a slave, but because of the kindness of his owners, was given freedom and was thus able to pursue an education. Supporting himself through washing he went to college and got degrees in science, eventually getting a Master’s degree and becoming the head of the agricultural department of the Tuskegee Institute. The poems tell his story in the voices of the people he interacted with: his teachers, his students, even random individuals who he came in contact with. Because of this, the picture of him is more enticing than complete. The poems focus on his creativity and his relationship with God more than the facts of his life.

This is such a beautifully done book that makes the reader feel intimate with George Washington Carver, like a friend. He is presented as incredibly smart, friendly and enthusiastic about his work and the whole of creation. The photographs from his life helps create further the feeling that the reader is participating. It is the show of a biographies’ strength that the reader is not fully satisfied and wants to find out more about the subject. Books written as a poetical narrative are interesting to me, and while that may be what draws a reader to pick up this book (I found it in the poetry section of my library), what will keep the reader engaged is the lovely voice of a beautiful, creative man.


Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange

The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

Book Discussion

  1. How does poetry affect the way the reader understands the story?
  2. Why does the author tell the story from different points of view/ how does this affect the way we learn about George Washington Carver?


Author website http://marilyn-nelson.com/

Author Interview with Cooperative Children’s Book Center  http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/authors/experts/nelson.asp

Interview of author by two fifth graders )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s