The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007) is a powerful young adult novel that shares the pivotal 1967-1968 school year from the perspective of seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood. In The Wednesday Wars, his fellow students go to their religious schools (Catholic school or the Jewish synagogue) on Wednesday afternoons. As the lone

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The Pullman Porter: An American Journey by Vanita Oelschlager and illustrated by Mike Blanc (Vanita Books, May 2014) captures the history of the former slaves who became the porters on the Pullman train cars. Rich acrylic paintings add a sense of awe to the text. The book shares the duties of a Pullman porter, as well as

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These Hands by Margaret H. Mason and Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Houghton Mifflin, March 2011) tells two stories: one of a grandfather teaching his grandson how to do great things with his hands, like tie a shoe and shuffle cards. The other story the grandfather teaches his grandson is how those same hands were not allowed to

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White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by Shadra Strickland (Candlewick, August 2011) is based on a true story from the childhood of one of the authors in the Jim Crow South. One afternoon, two boys, one white and one African-American, got off a bus and ran for the drinking fountain. As they

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In 1948, hundreds of Segenalese railway workers along the main rail line left work in a strike against the French colonist’s repression of the native’s way of life and status as employees of the railway. In God’s Bits of Wood, Sembene Ousmane tells their story. Ousmane’s writing was impressive. Although I’ve never been to Senegal,

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I took a creative writing class in tenth grade. While I can’t say any of my output was remarkable, the best aspects of the class were the samples my teacher gave us of good quality stories and poetry. I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate poetry (it took two more years before that happened), yet I

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I was a skeptic. I had heard the hype and still I avoided The Help by Kathryn Stockett. My book club decided to discuss it this month and I grudgingly put a hold for it at the library. The hold came in and I let it sit on my TBR shelf for a week before

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