This Michael L. Printz Honor Winner is quite good. It’s 1976; Gabe and Frita are best friends. Gabe is white; Frita is black. Jimmy Carter is running for President. There are plenty of great themes here – friendship, integration, facing your fears, bullies, etc., but there is a word – the “n” word – that takes center stage. This book is written for lower school students. Should they read that word? Should they hear it if the teacher reads it aloud? I think, if well-handled, this can work for LS students. They are familiar with name calling and generally know enough to know that this is one of the worst kinds. Why is it too early to have that conversation? I think the story he tells on 103 is worth the whole book; he has changed his perspective and shows even his toughest critic that he understands oppression. I would not want a LS student to read it on her / his own, but with the right teacher or parent, this is a thought provoking text.

Advertisements