As the first week of 2017 comes to end, it is time for me to begin again my Weekly Wrap-Ups. I can with full confidence say I finished two books thus far in the new year! I started an additional one and before Theo, my 3 1/2 year old son, went off to Portland with his Mimi to visit his uncle and other relatives, we were able to finish a book.
If you can remember my 2017 Reading Resolution (found here if you don’t), my goal is to read at least three Juvenile books and listen to at least four Audiobooks a month. This week I finished one Juvenile book and one Juvenile audiobook.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
There was one other thing I gained from reading In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse that helped me understand why people acted the way they did in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. You see, a lot of Native tribes in the late 1800s gave up their land and moved to reservations to protect their people, especially those weaker ones like the elderly and children. Most of the black families in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry had to remain in their unfair situations, unable to progress or take a stand against the unfair treatment given to them, to protect their families.
Cassie Logan is the daughter of a couple who owns land in Mississippi in 1933. During Reconstruction, a carpet bagger had swindled some land from a wealthy family, the Grangers, and sold some to Cassie’s great-grandfather. Cassie’s grandpa purchased more land. Now, the Grangers want all of “their” land back. Cassie’s family has always been able to pay their mortgage and taxes, but with the Great Depression in full throttle and with Mrs. Logan losing her job as a teacher for teaching her students things not in their textbook, they may lose their land. Mr. Logan had his leg broken and he couldn’t go back to work on the railroads causing money to be even tighter. Will they be able to keep their land or will the Grangers snatch it through unseemly actions?
Did I forget to mention the Logans are black and the Grangers are white?
I love American history and I do remember learning about sharecropping. However, I wish this Newberry winner had been mandatory reading during that history lesson because it helps you understand institutional racism as well as poverty. (If you didn’t know, I’m a sociologist–not socialist!–by education so I find these things interesting. If you don’t, then please skip past the next two paragraphs.)
Sharecropping is where a tenant plants on someone’s property. The owners get a portion of the produce. Due to a lack of hard cash and credit, tenants were often forced to shop at certain stores that would just add the debt to a line of credit the land owners backed. Land owners would then subtract the cost of debt with interest onto what the tenant farmers owed them. If produce was bad and the land owners charged higher interest, the debt these mostly black folks had was too much for them to seek better employment. They were trapped.
This is important to the story because Cassie’s family wants to stop the ill treatment the land owners give their tenant farmers. They set up a way for them to buy their goods not at a store owned by the land owners, but one in a neighboring city that is backed by a white lawyer’s credit. This does not bode well with many of the white families and they try to stop the Logans in some pretty wicked ways. This read is solid and I am so proud schools teach with it.
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III
This story is about a boy and a grandpa that retrace the steps of the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy who like Crazy Horse didn’t fully look like other Lakota. This is because both had lighter physical features due to their relatives not being fully Lakota, but also European. They both were made fun of because of their looks. Jimmy’s grandpa wants him to understand that physical appearances do not make you who you are. He succeeds during the course of the road trip.
The tale is thick in history–they literally take a road trip to follow the paths Crazy Horse took (many of the paved roads we currently use were dirt roads used for centuries). At every stop they make, the grandpa explains what Crazy Horse was doing there, mostly to fight for his people. In the end, Jimmy learns more about himself, his people and is able to stand up to his bullies.
To me the story is more of a narrative non-fiction, with Jimmy’s story kind of taking a backseat to the real story of Crazy Horse. It was fascinating to read about history I didn’t know about. Living in Texas for most of my life, I wasn’t aware many battles in this region of the USA (South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana) and even how certain Indian tribes sided with the Americans. It will be on the 2017-2018 Texas Bluebonnet Reading List so it is appropriate for kids in 3rd-6th grade.
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Y’all, if I could just read authors like Shannon Hale then life would never disappoint. If you haven’t read any of her novels, then please do so! This one concerns a thirty-something gal, Jane, who has a bit of an obsession on Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (why I will never know!). Her great-aunt discovers it and confides in her that she needs to get a grip on reality. So, upon her passing away, the great-aunt wills Jane to a three week vacation at Pembrook Park where everyone relives the early 1800s as if they were in a Jane Austen romance!
I’m right where she goes to Pembrook Park for her first day. I can’t wait to dive back into! Shannon Hale, I love you!
Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman
With Theo, we read Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, which he had to take with him to Portland. I am trying out longer picture books with him and these easy graphic novel chapter books are excellent. Granted, it isn’t high “snobbery” literature, but I want him to be a life long reader and if a jitsu bunny entertains him, I go with it. Isabel the Bunjitsu Bunny learns a lot about tackling issues by thinking things through first and coming to a logical answer. She only resorts to jitsu lastly.
Even though Theo was only at school for one day this past week, I still gave his teacher books to share with his class. They were about preschool kindness. You can find those titles here.
What did you read this week? Share even if you just read a little!