A Jeanne Site
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: August 28, 1999
Faculty on the Site.
Stories to Share
Links to Reviews
Student Reviews and Contributions
Teaching Tolerance Site
Link to Recommended Reading for Reviews
Link added July 14, 1999.
Where to Find These Books
Booklist Editors' Choice for 1998 Books
Brief review by jeanne. Other reviews up shortly as the rest of the Dear Habermas community sends them in.
The dragon on the cover would scare anyone, who wasn't of course listening in good faith, and who couldn't imagine playing with dragons and leprechauns and shadows and all the other wonderful figments of our imagination. Basquiat's paintings are to be stared at over and over, as is Maya Angelou's poem. This is a wonderful book for all of us to share with the young, and with each other. There are brief biographies of both the poet and the artist in the book. They should be known to all our children.
Brief review by jeanne
This is the book that caused the big todo when the new Director of the National Endowment for the Arts cancelled its $7000 award for the printing of this book, after two NEA committees had formally approved the award and the book had been printed by a small local El Paso, Texas, artists' publishing company. A private foundation has since awarded the samll publisher $7000 to cover the cost of this printing.
The cause of all the fuss was that the story was written by Subcomandante Marcos, leader of recent uprisings in Mexico over local conditions in San Cristobal, Chiapas. The new NEA Director interfered with the previously approved grant even though Subcomandante Marcos had foresworn any interest in royalites from the work.
Domitila Domingue, Domi, born in San Pedro Ixcatlan, Oaxaca, "has become one of the most significant of the indigenous artists in Mexico." This book, like the Basquiat book, will provide many hours of pleasure from the paintings alone, which capture a gamut of emotions from sheer joy to despair. The god who sneaks up to snatch laughter from a child leaves us to ponder the tension between the freedom of that individual child to laugh and the sharing of community laughter. Subcommandante Marcos report that for that reason a child may cry at any moment. So there is much to ponder, much to share in discussions of how and what we share, and how we may do so without leaving a child to cry.
(". . .escucho que un nino se reia, se acerco con cuidado, y cuando se descuido el nino, el dios le arrebato la risa y lo dejo llorando.")
Brief review by jeanne
Delightful book in a series by a single mother who lives with her daughter in Edinburgh. The next in the series is due in June 1999. So beware. Children in your family and community may begin to beg for these books.
Harry Potter lost his parents while an infant, and was raised by relatives who seemed to prefer not to have him. He struggles through all the pain of those who are excluded from being the favored children. How does Harry handle the stress and strain of going to a high school where he "doesn't belong," where he hasn't learned all the traditions and rituals passed on by some of the students' families.
Some of the teachers are mean and unfair. Some care, but can't do very much. And some help. The students themselves struggle with the first year of high school, as they forgive misdeeds and trust again and again and again, sometimes to be disappointed, but to find school spirit and community before the year is out.
Wonderful writing, full of magic. A book that we can share, with many of the issues we talk about in Dear Habermas translated to a child's world.
Brief review by Professor Takata.
At 10:16 on the morning of May 9, 1999, Professor Takata wrote:
I finally finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Neat book. Clever, imaginative. Gets you hooked from the first page to the last. I had 10 pages to go when my husband shouted from the kitchen, "Dinner!!!" So I finished the last 10 pages after dinner. My daughter watched me read the last pages because she wanted to watch my reactions to the ending.
I think we do "magic" sometimes and some of the kids get it while others don't see it. You know what I mean? By the way, did you find an "aunt from England, preferably without an umbrella" for us? [The series is published in England. Does anyone have an Aunt to share so we can get the new ones sooner?] Or do we have to wait for amazon.com to send us book #2? (I've already ordered the second book to the Harry Potter series. My daughter and I can hardly wait. Debating whether to order a copy for me or else I'll have to wait til she finishes it). Crazy, huh?
Professor Takata's right, you know. It is magic we do. I just saw a bit scurry out of that classroom door over yonder. Have you seen it? jeanne
Professor Takata added on May 10, 1999:
Hogwarts School will be needing a replacement to Professor Quirrell now. What would his replacement be like? What would be his/her name? What would he/she teach?
A hint from the story: "The class everyone had really been looking forward to was Defense Against the Dart Arts, but Quirrell's lessons turned out to be a bit of a joke. His classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said was to ward off a vampire he'd met in Romania . . ." (at p. 134) What happened to him? Well, we wouldn't want to spoil the story. But we'll bet you can guess that Hogwarts School has something to do with magic!
Well, you'll have to read the story to learn about Professor Quirrell and Hogwarts School. But what if we were going to have a new teacher? What would he/she be like? What would he/she teach? What questions would you like to ask about what it would be like to study with him/her?
Brief review by jeanne
This book tells a wonderful story and fits in remarkably with our Habermasian discourse on issues of juvenile justice. The hero, Stanley Yelnats, is sent to a camp for juvenile delinquents, with all the labelling, the being in the wrong place at the right time, the wicked little unstated assumptions we all tend to make about ourselves and about the young people who are our future. Stanley's adventures, his acceptance and in-depth understanding of the privileging of subjectivity, of how the system does work instead of how it should work, add up to a lot of awareness about juveniles and the world they encounter.
Through all the struggle, Stanley comes to make a friend, and turn exclusion on its ear. But he manages throughout to forgive, to trust again, to gain some perspective on who he is. Good story, with lots of potential for discussion.
Brief review by jeanne until others from the site begin to come in.
A word of caution. This book uses four letter words. DO NOT give it to young children. Both the language and the subject matter are heavy. So why did we still recommend it for this sharing with young people? Because a mature adolescent, who is not a stranger to four letter words, and who has begun to ask questions about race and inequality and inclusion and exclusion, and who made and makes the rules, will find some thoughtful reading.
These are not the usual answers. Beatty is a poet, writes and thinks like a poet. These may not be the ultimate answers to the problem of difference and status in a world that still pays considerable attention to color. But they are creative answers. There are more questions than answers, more searching than knowing. And that is very Habermasian in an approach to discourse in this modern or postmodern world. Beatty addresses the need for forums, the power of storytelling, the possibilities for new ways of describing and knowing the world.
This book should be shared according to the maturity in critical thinking of the person approaching it, not by chronological age. Please be concerned for those with whom you share it. It can be, and should be, disturbing. But it can also be comforting, if one is willing to question and to dare to pose new paths to answers.
May 7, 1999. Further review, paired to Juvenile Delinquency Class.
I've just finished The Color of Water. It highlights one man's journey of discovery of himself and the mother that he loved yet didn't really know unitl he embarked on telling both the story of his coming of age and his mother's secretive past. He is African American and his mother is a Jewish immigrant from Poland. He gives the reader the opportunity to look at the life of two families, one African American and the other Jewish and how these families are interconnected. We see the challenges of a white woman with Black children and the racial divide that she lives with while also seeing a Black child with a white mother and the racial divide that he lives through. It is entertaining and a story of triumph.
Visit Amazon.com for more information on James McBride's The Color of Water.
Try creating Happy Accidents to go with these readings. And have fun!
Visit the Visual Literacy Site for more ideas.
Share books you'd like us to put up. Manchild in the Promised Land is coming soon. One of our students is sharing it with many of the young people in her community.
Back to Books to Share
(323) 789- 4800
(310) 821- 1769
Back to Books to Share