Sunday, September 2, 2012

Special Sunday Review: "Zeely" & "New Kids on the Block"

Time for another special throw-back Sunday review! As I said before, these were written for a college education class so they aren't the greatest, but I hope you still enjoy them! We have two reviews this time, because they were shorties. Hope I still got a good grade on them lol.

Zeely, by Virginia Hamilton, was published in 1967. It is about a young African-American girl and boy who go to visit their uncle in the country. They meet a girl whom they believe to be an African Watutsi queen. This book would probably be best for ages 9-12.

This book is good for teaching about diversity while not forcing the child to realize that they are learning. It tells an excellent story about judging people and becoming your own person. There was only one mention of their color, and otherwise you wouldn't know they were African, except for the pictures. It also teaches children to have pride in their backgrounds, especially young women. The girl had a very active imagination, which you don't usually see in older books. Overall it was well-written with a solid message.

New Kids in Town, written by Janet Bode, was published in 1989. This book is suitable for ages 10-15, but I think teens around 14 or 15 will appreciate it more. Many different cultures are discussed in this book, including Chinese, Mexican, Greek, and Indian.

This book is a collection teens' stories about coming to America. Each story is told in the teen's own words, so the emotions they felt coming to a strange country are conveyed quite well. These are obviously true stories, retold after usually several years in America. Some of the raw feelings, such as fear and anger, that they must have felt do not come across as well on paper as they might have when told to the author.

Some of the stories were interesting, like the one by the Vietnamese boy who came to America with his father and left the rest of his family back in Vietnam. The older teens, 18, 19, and 20 years old, seemed more interesting than the younger ones. I honestly don't think teens will like most of these stories, mostly because they are already so outdated. However, the book does do a good job of showing different cultures.

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